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2020 Subaru Forester Limited
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Discussion Starter #1
purchased late Jan 2020 and as of right now I'm at 11K miles. I'm getting conflicting reports, the dealer says the CVT is a sealed in system and it never needs to be serviced aka fluid changed but the Canada Japan markets for the same vehicle says CVT fluid change at 36K. Right now I've nickel and dimed money into savings for service and future service cost.. When I hit 36K miles or even before the 50K warranty expires, will I need to service the CVT? Please advise. all perspectives are welcome.

Cj
 

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2014 2.5i Limited CVT
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It was believed - by Subaru and the dealers - that the CVT needed no service. However, it's been found that it SHOULD be serviced, based upon usage. I'd suggest talking to a different dealer for service (if possible). But it still is up to who you talk to.
 

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2020 Subaru Forester Limited
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Discussion Starter #3
It was believed - by Subaru and the dealers - that the CVT needed no service. However, it's been found that it SHOULD be serviced, based upon usage. I'd suggest talking to a different dealer for service (if possible). But it still is up to who you talk to.
Thanks for the response. I'm having a tough time understand how any car maker thinks fluids last forever... this is my last car I bought.. I usually trade every 2 years but I'm done buying cars so I want this one to last forever and will do what it takes to see that it does so I'm just not sure who to believe when it comes to my very first CVT.
 

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2014 2.5i Limited CVT
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For the most part, a CVT doesn't need a lot of maintenance - and it's not really able to be repaired like "the old" ways that transmissions could have parts n pieces replaced. It's a single unit and when it DOES need to be replaced, they replace the entire unit. So in some ways, it IS a sealed unit. However, this doesn't mean it can't be serviced.

Just like how you can now go 10,000 miles (ore more) with fully synthetic oil, the transmission fluid used has become a very long lived product as well. There are probably tens of thousands of CVTs out there in Subarus that have never been serviced (never had a fluid change or such)....

Other CVT units may be more serviceable or require more service, but the Subaru was designed and engineered better than most (all?) other CVTs out there.
 

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2020 Subaru Forester Limited
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Discussion Starter #5
For the most part, a CVT doesn't need a lot of maintenance - and it's not really able to be repaired like "the old" ways that transmissions could have parts n pieces replaced. It's a single unit and when it DOES need to be replaced, they replace the entire unit. So in some ways, it IS a sealed unit. However, this doesn't mean it can't be serviced.

Just like how you can now go 10,000 miles (ore more) with fully synthetic oil, the transmission fluid used has become a very long lived product as well. There are probably tens of thousands of CVTs out there in Subarus that have never been serviced (never had a fluid change or such)....

Other CVT units may be more serviceable or require more service, but the Subaru was designed and engineered better than most (all?) other CVTs out there.

I see.. well I did buy my Forester from a dealership that offered a lifetime warranty on the powertrain, its from a company called CNA, apparently the largest vehicle warranty company in the nation plus it’s backed by Allstate.. so when the 5/60 is over the lifetime kicks in.. I guess if I ever have any trouble then I'm covered.... I will see what the dealer has to say when I take her in for an oil change next week.
 

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Sahuarita, Arizona USA 2018 Forester Limited
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If you look at the maintenance schedule in your Warranty & Maintenance booklet you'll see that Subaru recommends "I" for the CVT fluid every 30,000 miles. Note that Subaru defines "I" as "Inspect, correct or replace if necessary" (my emphasis). In addition, Subaru recommends changing the CVT fluid at 24,855 miles if the vehicle is used for towing. So don't let the dealer tell you it's a sealed system and the CVT fluid can't be serviced. Find another dealer! I plan on having my CVT fluid changed at 60k miles, taking a cue from Subaru Canada that requires a CVT fluid change at 100,000km (approx 62k miles) as a condition to maintain the Canadian extended CVT warranty.
 

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It was believed - by Subaru and the dealers - that the CVT needed no service. However, it's been found that it SHOULD be serviced, based upon usage. I'd suggest talking to a different dealer for service (if possible). But it still is up to who you talk to.
That is so interesting. If the Dealer feels that fluid changes are not necessary, how could you trust them to be geared to do it properly? Unless they have a change of opinion regarding fluid changes in the future. My 2010 had fluid changes, not a CVT, as per the servicing requirements. It also had a spin on filter which the Dealer insisted should NOT be changed. That was mystery to me too.
 

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Sahuarita, Arizona USA 2018 Forester Limited
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My 2010 4EAT did not have a spin-on tranny filter but I believe the previous generation may have.
 

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2014 2.5i Limited CVT
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Hey Surfrat - yes, you're right. The older transmission - the 4EAT - is a tradition transmission and requires more typical services.

I'm not saying I buy or believe the nonsense about the CVT not needing to be services. But it's a totally different design from a traditional banded automatic transmission.
 

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2020 Subaru Forester Limited
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Discussion Starter #11
If you look at the maintenance schedule in your Warranty & Maintenance booklet you'll see that Subaru recommends "I" for the CVT fluid every 30,000 miles. Note that Subaru defines "I" as "Inspect, correct or replace if necessary" (my emphasis). In addition, Subaru recommends changing the CVT fluid at 24,855 miles if the vehicle is used for towing. So don't let the dealer tell you it's a sealed system and the CVT fluid can't be serviced. Find another dealer! I plan on having my CVT fluid changed at 60k miles, taking a cue from Subaru Canada that requires a CVT fluid change at 100,000km (approx 62k miles) as a condition to maintain the Canadian extended CVT warranty.
I noticed the "I" when I looked at the service intervals in the manual but wasn't sure. thx for the heads up..
 

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2013 Forester 2.5L 2007 Forester 2.5 XSL
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Hi, I have a 2007 forester with 340km, just replaced the head gasket first problem with the car from brand new and always serviced the transmission, not a problem. Its not a CVT, but my other 2013 forester is a CVT and I was told not to service. 2013 forester serviced from new except the CVT. 160km the trans light appeared, limp mode. They told me I required new valve body $5500 AU dollars. Bad solenoid which I think is caused by crap from the magnets or original oil. I told them not to proceed with the new valve body and serviced replaced the oil twice over 2 days which they advised me not to. Light turned off and never had the problem again. I recommend replacing fluid for even normal driving. My opinion. First part that ever failed on my foresters and this must be due to never replacing the oil.
 

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2020 Subaru Forester Limited
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Discussion Starter #13
Hi, I have a 2007 forester with 340km, just replaced the head gasket first problem with the car from brand new and always serviced the transmission, not a problem. Its not a CVT, but my other 2013 forester is a CVT and I was told not to service. 2013 forester serviced from new except the CVT. 160km the trans light appeared, limp mode. They told me I required new valve body $5500 AU dollars. Bad solenoid which I think is caused by crap from the magnets or original oil. I told them not to proceed with the new valve body and serviced replaced the oil twice over 2 days which they advised me not to. Light turned off and never had the problem again. I recommend replacing fluid for even normal driving. My opinion. First part that ever failed on my foresters and this must be due to never replacing the oil.
Based on these stories, I'm going to have the CVT serviced at 36K miles.
 

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2012 Forester X Auto
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Thanks for the response. I'm having a tough time understand how any car maker thinks fluids last forever... this is my last car I bought.. I usually trade every 2 years but I'm done buying cars so I want this one to last forever and will do what it takes to see that it does so I'm just not sure who to believe when it comes to my very first CVT.
You may want the car to last forever, but prepare to be disappointed. It won't.
Nothing lasts forever.
Especially if it encounters a solid object or a solid object encounters your stationary car.
You may be interested in looking at this link regarding your extended warranty:

As far as the fluid change in the CVT goes, the engineer who came up with the "no maintenance ever needed" idea was fired after it was discovered he was on drugs. ;-)
The original Subaru CVT recommendations followed that "advice" but was changed and apparently the dealer isn't up to date.
The engine is also a sealed system, until you open a drain or filler plug which the CVT also has.
My opinion is that the dealers who say the CVT fluid doesn't need changing, may be because it is very expensive to do, and maybe they don't want to scare away customers.
There are folks who have never changed fluid in the CVT and you can also find posters who need new CVT's that failed... Are these related? Maybe.
If the fluid change is done right, it won't hurt (except your wallet).
As to longevity to the transmission, if the fluid NEEDED changing it will make a difference, otherwise it won't, and that is based on the fluid's condition.
Thus the "Inspect/ Correct /Replace comment @ForesterBill made.
 

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My 2010 4EAT did not have a spin-on tranny filter but I believe the previous generation may have.
You're right, they did. My wife's '08 had one, but like @Surfrat said, they were a lifetime component that did not require replacement. .....although there were regularly scheduled fluid change intervals.

Having said that, the 4EAT in my wife's '08 lasted us 13 years and over 250,000 miles and is still chugging along just fine. .....with one fluid change. Not bragging about that last part or suggesting others do the same, it's just a fact in our case.

Changing the CVT fluid is your call OP. I will probably do it at some point but since my wife is not towing with it, etc., I'm not going to worry about following the severe schedule, etc.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
You may want the car to last forever, but prepare to be disappointed. It won't.
Nothing lasts forever.
Especially if it encounters a solid object or a solid object encounters your stationary car.
You may be interested in looking at this link regarding your extended warranty:

As far as the fluid change in the CVT goes, the engineer who came up with the "no maintenance ever needed" idea was fired after it was discovered he was on drugs. ;-)
The original Subaru CVT recommendations followed that "advice" but was changed and apparently the dealer isn't up to date.
The engine is also a sealed system, until you open a drain or filler plug which the CVT also has.
My opinion is that the dealers who say the CVT fluid doesn't need changing, may be because it is very expensive to do, and maybe they don't want to scare away customers.
There are folks who have never changed fluid in the CVT and you can also find posters who need new CVT's that failed... Are these related? Maybe.
If the fluid change is done right, it won't hurt (except your wallet).
As to longevity to the transmission, if the fluid NEEDED changing it will make a difference, otherwise it won't, and that is based on the fluid's condition.
Thus the "Inspect/ Correct /Replace comment @ForesterBill made.

thx for the link concerning the warranties, but just so you will know the dealership I purchased from which was 60 miles from my home and local dealership was the only one in the area offering a lifetime warranty on the powertrain.. apparently is from CNA,the largest vehicle warranty company in the nation plus it’s backed by Allstate and this kicks in once the 5/60 is over.. so at least there is some soft of peace of mind.. but will look into the link you sent me.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
You're right, they did. My wife's '08 had one, but like @Surfrat said, they were a lifetime component that did not require replacement. .....although there were regularly scheduled fluid change intervals.

Having said that, the 4EAT in my wife's '08 lasted us 13 years and over 250,000 miles and is still chugging along just fine. .....with one fluid change. Not bragging about that last part or suggesting others do the same, it's just a fact in our case.

Changing the CVT fluid is your call OP. I will probably do it at some point but since my wife is not towing with it, etc., I'm not going to worry about following the severe schedule, etc.
I see.. I don't plan on making towing a habit.. I only have one trip planned that involves towing and that is about it.
 

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I see.. I don't plan on making towing a habit.. I only have one trip planned that involves towing and that is about it.
That's really going to depend on how comfortable you feel about it. I don't know what you plan to tow, the miles you will travel on that trip, the grades you will encounter, etc. .....so I can't say I would do the same or choose to change according to the severe schedule.

In my case, my wife's Forester won't be put under any of that kind of stress as far as heavy loads, towing and so on. .....but on the other hand, we do tend to keep our cars for a long time and I imagine at some point, I'll have the fluid changed even though there is no requirement in the book about it.

I think the main point here is that it is not a closed system, the fluid can be changed and Subaru even recommends it under certain circumstances. ....so the dealer is wrong in that respect.

As for when you want to change it, I think that's your call based on what you know and your own comfort level.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
That's really going to depend on how comfortable you feel about it. I don't know what you plan to tow, the miles you will travel on that trip, the grades you will encounter, etc. .....so I can't say I would do the same or choose to change according to the severe schedule.

In my case, my wife's Forester won't be put under any of that kind of stress as far as heavy loads, towing and so on. .....but on the other hand, we do tend to keep our cars for a long time and I imagine at some point, I'll have the fluid changed even though there is no requirement in the book about it.

I think the main point here is that it is not a closed system, the fluid can be changed and Subaru even recommends it under certain circumstances. ....so the dealer is wrong in that respect.

As for when you want to change it, I think that's your call based on what you know and your own comfort level.

I live in AL and plan to travel to Arkansas for Bikes Blues and BBQ in 2021.. my bike weights 672 soaking wet and the trailer is around 300 pounds so I'm well under the 1500 limit.. I mostly travel with this ride.. been to Jax and back and just got back from NC and maybe heading to the keys next month..
 

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2019 Forester Touring
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For the most part, a CVT doesn't need a lot of maintenance - and it's not really able to be repaired like "the old" ways that transmissions could have parts n pieces replaced. It's a single unit and when it DOES need to be replaced, they replace the entire unit. So in some ways, it IS a sealed unit. However, this doesn't mean it can't be serviced.

Just like how you can now go 10,000 miles (ore more) with fully synthetic oil, the transmission fluid used has become a very long lived product as well. There are probably tens of thousands of CVTs out there in Subarus that have never been serviced (never had a fluid change or such)....

Other CVT units may be more serviceable or require more service, but the Subaru was designed and engineered better than most (all?) other CVTs out there.
Technically speaking, the CVT is a repairable unit. Anything manufactured by humans can be repaired/rebuilt by humans. What makes the modern CVT considered a replaceable unit is the expense part of the equation. It’s simply cheaper and more reliable to have a central repair facility rebuild defective and expired units, where the specialized machinery and expertise can be concentrated and quality of workmanship controlled to a higher level of precision, than it is to have individual dealership shops repair them.

And, it’s not just CVT units. Many modern multi-gear automatics (8-9-10 speed traditional automatics), dual clutch, etc. are depot repaired. It’s the same reason Head units, alternators, power steering racks/pumps, ABS master cylinders, etc. are “depot repaired”.

As we all know, some dealerships seem to have difficulty performing a simple oil/filter change. One can easily understand why manufacturers would cringe at some Bubba digging around in an expensive component like a CVT with little understanding of the technology that makes it work.

From the manufacturer’s POV, it’s just simpler to seal things up to keep incompetent attempts at repair to a minimum. And, keeping those untrained hands out of them probably benefits the customer far more than having some marginally trained shop dude‘s half-cocked attempts to “dig in and fix the problem” come into play..

I live 10 miles from the BMW manufacturing plant in SC, and have many friends that are employed by the company, at multiple levels of engineering and management. The gist of what conversations that I’ve had with many of them about BMW’s policy of “lifetime fluid fills” in transmissions and other items uses that very logic.

I can easily see how that POV might be a popular viewpoint industry-wide.
 
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