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Smooshed FOTY 2011
2005 Lifted 2.5 XT 5-Speed MT Dual-Range
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5,732 Posts
Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Well, I feel a bit worried, but slightly relieved at the same time.

To start, I've had a "rough" feeling transmission lately. When I reverse out of my driveway, the transmission always felt like it was binding a bit. It was a noticeable drone while moving with a slight vibration in the car. Well, today I noticed that it was doing it a lot, at just about every slow U-turn in reverse and forward, so I was dreading it was the MPT, and that got me thinking "when did I change the trans fluid last?" So that prompted me to change my fluid today.....

I realized just today that I checked the trans fluid about 15,000 miles ago, and even then it was a very dirty, dark red. I've been meaning to change it, but then the motor blew and you know the story from there......it was kind of put on the shelf, so to speak. All excuses I know, but honestly, it just escaped my mind completely.

Well, I got around to draining it today and upon doing so, I pretty much just went "OMG, really!?" when I saw what looked like the saliva of satan pouring from the drain hole. An instant face-palm occurred without even thinking about it, followed by a sinking feeling came over me as I thought "holy crap, it's black". I watched it drain, staring at each and every last drop, dreading that a transmission replacement was now in the near future. I waited for the putrid smell of burnt fluid to fill the garage.....but to my surprise, it never did.

Baffled, I stuck my face in the drain pan and took a good whiff. Nothing. It smelled like normal ATF. In fact, it had less odor to it than the new fluid I was adding in. Nervously, I added back in the 4 quarts of fresh fluid and went for a drive. It felt a little smoother, and I didn't notice the drone that it ususaly does when reversing from the driveway, but I just thought "it's all in my head". Drove it around for about 25 miles, parking back on the ramps and continued to drain it again. Same black horribleness (as expected), but I figured better out than in. Refilled another 4 quarts of fresh and took it on another drive to my buddies house to pick him up to get something to eat. I didn't even tell him about changing the fluid, and yet he asked "did you fix something? It seems smoother". I then proceeded to take it to my "test" area to duplicate the low speed figure of eights with the bind/vibration but nothing, it felt smooth and it all but went away, shifted smoother, quicker and downshifted much quicker. Overall, it just seemed to be much healthier (obviously, it wasn't choking on sewage water anymore).

So, a question to the well educated tranny people, could it be that I possibly dodged a bullet and just had extremely filthy fluid and all should be good from here on out (once I do two more drains tomorrow), or have I really f**ked my trans?
 

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Premium Member
2019 Crosstrek 2018 XT
Joined
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14,378 Posts
I would do an oil analysis with Blackstone Labs You still have almost 6 quarts of the black stuff in there.
 

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Premium Member
2015 Highlander AWD XLE 6AT
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4,255 Posts
Black ATF can mean a dying- or abused AT (worn clutches; suspended clutch material), excessive AT heat (i.e., high ambient temps, towing, blocked cooler), old fluid (darkens with age), or some combination of the above. No matter what, my understanding is that it's not a good thing.

The capacity spec for the 4EAT AT is 9.8 U.S. qts. Draining and refilling 4 qts. at a time leaves ~59% old fluid in after the first change [ {(9.8 qts old - 4 qts new)/9.8 qts total)} ], and ~35% (59%^2) old fluid after the second d&f. Assuming a good mix, there'll still be ~12% old fluid (~1.2 qts) left after the fourth change (~59%^4).

Probably worth changing the ATF filter as well.

It might be worth looking into a "gentle" ATF flush. For example, my 3/4-ton pickup truck holds ~20 qts of ATF. To replace the ATF, I warm up the engine and AT, drain the pan (~7 qts), replace the filter, and drain the torque converter (~7 qts; it has its own drain plug). I fill the pan with 7 qts, run the engine briefly to fill the TC, and then fill the pan again. I then disconnect the ATF cooling system's return line from the AT and run the engine to pump old ATF until it changes from the old color to the new. The line is then reconnected, another ~6 qts of ATF is added, and the level is checked.

HTH,
Jim / crewzer
 

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Smooshed FOTY 2011
2005 Lifted 2.5 XT 5-Speed MT Dual-Range
Joined
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5,732 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
Well, last night the two, 4-quart changes. Today, I removed the filter, and managed to drain 7.5 quarts. It had some color, but still filthy. Replaced the tranny filter with a WIX (surprised they even made them, and even had them in stock at O'Reilly's), and added 7.5 quarts of new. Drove it around for about 25 miles in the city and MAN what a difference! Smooth, quick, and quick to downshift. Feels much more responsive than it did with the first two, 4-quart flushes.
 

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Registered
Ah crap.. I'm back with my 05 XS
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8,294 Posts
MMmm yikes...

my burnt ATF wasn't even close to black.. it was BROWN though..

which reminds me, my power steering tank need another refreshing because the ATF in there gets all dark too.
 

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Premium Member
2019 Crosstrek 2018 XT
Joined
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14,378 Posts
Blue Fox;813020 Replaced the tranny filter with a WIX (surprised they even made them said:
I don't believe that the WIX specs are the same as the Subaru's. The Subaru filter flow capacity is higher and filter ability is lower bc the flow is needed. There has been a thread here before where the non Subaru filter caused overheating and damage to the tranny. I would spend the extra bucks for the Subaru version.
 

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none none
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8,844 Posts
I don't believe that the WIX specs are the same as the Subaru's. The Subaru filter flow capacity is higher and filter ability is lower bc the flow is needed. There has been a thread here before where the non Subaru filter caused overheating and damage to the tranny. I would spend the extra bucks for the Subaru version.
+1 I have a standard oil filter on the tranny now, and it makes it act up sometimes (will sometimes downshift at 4,000 rpm and then hit the rev limiter almost right away), and will throw an AT code if you try to brake boost. The can specs are the same for the trans and oil filter but the internals are different. Most oil filter companies just spec the filter based on the can size and thread.

Strangely my ATF still even has some of the factory fill after 135k and its still red, although it needs another drain and fill in the near future. My power steering fluid on the other hand was disgusting, looked like someone had filled it with mud!
 

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Registered
2001 Subaru Forester
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19 Posts
Well, I feel a bit worried, but slightly relieved at the same time.

To start, I've had a "rough" feeling transmission lately. When I reverse out of my driveway, the transmission always felt like it was binding a bit. It was a noticeable drone while moving with a slight vibration in the car. Well, today I noticed that it was doing it a lot, at just about every slow U-turn in reverse and forward, so I was dreading it was the MPT, and that got me thinking "when did I change the trans fluid last?" So that prompted me to change my fluid today.....

I realized just today that I checked the trans fluid about 15,000 miles ago, and even then it was a very dirty, dark red. I've been meaning to change it, but then the motor blew and you know the story from there......it was kind of put on the shelf, so to speak. All excuses I know, but honestly, it just escaped my mind completely.

Well, I got around to draining it today and upon doing so, I pretty much just went "OMG, really!?" when I saw what looked like the saliva of satan pouring from the drain hole. An instant face-palm occurred without even thinking about it, followed by a sinking feeling came over me as I thought "holy crap, it's black". I watched it drain, staring at each and every last drop, dreading that a transmission replacement was now in the near future. I waited for the putrid smell of burnt fluid to fill the garage.....but to my surprise, it never did.

Baffled, I stuck my face in the drain pan and took a good whiff. Nothing. It smelled like normal ATF. In fact, it had less odor to it than the new fluid I was adding in. Nervously, I added back in the 4 quarts of fresh fluid and went for a drive. It felt a little smoother, and I didn't notice the drone that it ususaly does when reversing from the driveway, but I just thought "it's all in my head". Drove it around for about 25 miles, parking back on the ramps and continued to drain it again. Same black horribleness (as expected), but I figured better out than in. Refilled another 4 quarts of fresh and took it on another drive to my buddies house to pick him up to get something to eat. I didn't even tell him about changing the fluid, and yet he asked "did you fix something? It seems smoother". I then proceeded to take it to my "test" area to duplicate the low speed figure of eights with the bind/vibration but nothing, it felt smooth and it all but went away, shifted smoother, quicker and downshifted much quicker. Overall, it just seemed to be much healthier (obviously, it wasn't choking on sewage water anymore).

So, a question to the well educated tranny people, could it be that I possibly dodged a bullet and just had extremely filthy fluid and all should be good from here on out (once I do two more drains tomorrow), or have I really f**ked my trans?
hey, blue fox,

kinds of having similar issue as you did, any updates after drain & fill ? how's your transmission behave now?

regards
 

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Registered
2002 Forester S
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270 Posts
Well, last night the two, 4-quart changes. Today, I removed the filter, and managed to drain 7.5 quarts. It had some color, but still filthy. Replaced the tranny filter with a WIX (surprised they even made them, and even had them in stock at O'Reilly's), and added 7.5 quarts of new. Drove it around for about 25 miles in the city and MAN what a difference! Smooth, quick, and quick to downshift. Feels much more responsive than it did with the first two, 4-quart flushes.
Sounds like you are making good progress. However on that filter, you really should be running the factory filter from the dealer. They are not the same as the wix or any other aftermarket brand. I run basically aftermarket nearly everything in my 2 Subies, except for the tranny filter.

You might want to do one more drain/refill and slap on a filter you got from the dealer. BTW, that ATF are you using?

First time I drained the ATF on the wife's Fozzy, no idea how long that stuff had been in there, it smelled bad and was still red, but cloudy. We bought the car used and had it about a year before I drained it first time. Now, after 4 drain/refills and a new Subie filter, it shifts nice and smooth. During the 4 refills, I used a real mish-mash of fluids, including Maxlife, RL D4, and M1. Also put in, what was it, LubeGard Red.
 

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Registered
2002 Forester
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292 Posts
I would also just keep draining and refilling the transmission periodically until you have as clean as it's going to get transmission fluid. I did this on another car at 165K miles, and it now has over 202K miles on the original automatic transmission.
 

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Premium Member
2007 XT Sport 5MT
Joined
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24,015 Posts
could be worse... you could've drained the oil out of your 5MT and ended up with a big bucket of liquid silver.
I swear it had the identical look as the Urban Gray Metallic paint that came on the Foresters.

That was my expensive month of February...
 

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Foz Addict
1118 2.5 Premium& XT tour Quadraphenia Electromatic & the CVT
Joined
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124 Posts
Ewwww... I did that on a Honda 750... pulled the dipstick just before a planned weekend run, did a quick swipe with the finger... and the oil looked like that. Kinda like that Silver stuff from an Etch-a-sketch...

Agreed - it was not a pretty sight.
 
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