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2003 XS
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Alright so I changed the oil in my 2003 Subaru Forester XS for the first time last night and everything seemed to go pretty well. Apart from the ratchet slipping off the oil pan bolt and my hand hitting the bottom of the car it was a relatively easy thing to take care of.

Well that's what I thought. This morning I pulled the car out to go to work and its rpm stayed around 2 when it was just in park then dropped a bit when i put it in reverse. As I tried to give it some gas to get out of the driveway it seemed to just be really sluggish and not have much power behind it. Then the same thing happened when i shifted into drive. I pulled over in front of my house because I was worried that if i kept driving it I would end up exasperating the problem. I'm almost positive I drained the right fluids.

I used a 17mm socket which from what I've read around here is the appropriate size for the oil pan. I will have to look when i get home but I believe I also put in the correct weight of oil as well.

I am really at a loss as to what to do next. Any ideas?
 

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2002 Forester S
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269 Posts
Coincidence. You must have hit or damaged someting in the process of the oil change.

I've changed the oil in my wife's 02 Foz, my 04 OBW and the old IROC a zillion times. Never a hiccup.
 

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2011 Forester X AT
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4,235 Posts
What does your oil dipstick say? If it's way high, you need check the transmission and front diff fluid immediately. It is common for people to accidentally drain the transmission or differential instead of the oil pan. Subaru made no effort to make the plugs look different.
 

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1998 Forester
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213 Posts
The transmission also has a a drain plug that takes a 17mm to remove it. I have seen the oil drained in transmission and then oil added to the engine which over fills it.
 

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2000 Forester L NA auto
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576 Posts
Good call not driving it until you figure out what went wrong. It kinda sounds like fluid confusion and possible overfill to me too.

Kenny
 

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2003 XS
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26 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
son of a...

Hahaha wow.. so I had a friend look at it and within 5 seconds of looking under my hood he told me that I was pretty much an idiot. I had drained the my automatic transmission fluid AND then poured another 4.2 liters of oil in!

Holy crap I screwed up big on this one!!

He told me the only way to refill the the transmission fluid is to have it towed to a garage that does transmission flushes. Is this my only option? I don't mind having it towed because my insurance covers I think one tow a year or something like that but if it's something I could do myself then I would rather go that route. Although I haven't had much luck so far.

The whole point of changing my own oil is so I could become more proficient in managing the various aspects of my awesome Foz!

If anyone has any ideas as to what I should do next please speak up!!

It's a Forester 2003 XS with about 89,000 miles. Oh it also has no transmission fluid and did have about double the amount of oil it should have! hahaha oh wow what did I get myself into..

Thanks for the help guys!!
 

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2000 Forester
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44 Posts
Hahaha wow.. so I had a friend look at it and within 5 seconds of looking under my hood he told me that I was pretty much an idiot. I had drained the my automatic transmission fluid AND then poured another 4.2 liters of oil in!

Holy crap I screwed up big on this one!!

He told me the only way to refill the the transmission fluid is to have it towed to a garage that does transmission flushes. Is this my only option? I don't mind having it towed because my insurance covers I think one tow a year or something like that but if it's something I could do myself then I would rather go that route. Although I haven't had much luck so far.

The whole point of changing my own oil is so I could become more proficient in managing the various aspects of my awesome Foz!

If anyone has any ideas as to what I should do next please speak up!!

It's a Forester 2003 XS with about 89,000 miles. Oh it also has no transmission fluid and did have about double the amount of oil it should have! hahaha oh wow what did I get myself into..

Thanks for the help guys!!
You dont need to go to a shop. Locate the dipstick for the tranny fluid (near the back of the engine, but down pretty far). You can buy a funnel that will fit down the hole when the stick is removed. Refill it from there.

As for the mixup...dont be discouraged. Happens all the time on Subarus.
 

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2003 XS
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26 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 ·
You dont need to go to a shop. Locate the dipstick for the tranny fluid (near the back of the engine, but down pretty far). You can buy a funnel that will fit down the hole when the stick is removed. Refill it from there.

As for the mixup...dont be discouraged. Happens all the time on Subarus.
Thats what I thought I could do but my friend said that I should take it to a shop and have it done. Granted he doesn't know much about Subarus. If you guys say I can do it then I'm going to do it to save the money and the embarrassment of having to retell this story.

What kind/brand of auto transmission fluid should I get? Is it something I could find at a local oreillys or autozone?

I can't thank you guys enough for your help.
 

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2008 Subaru Outback Wagon
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67 Posts
Don't go near a transmission shop and definitely don't let them flush it. You can simply pour in 4 quarts (to start with) of Subaru HP automatic transmission fluid. Your manual might say for 2003 you can use something else. If so it might be cheaper.

As far as the engine oil goes there might not be an easy way to "drain" 4 quarts and leave 4 qts. in there. You might just want to drain it all and start over again. Also the engine holds a total of 4.4 quarts (non-turbo).

As you're finding out just do like I do every time I change oil.


Focus, focus, focus then double check. We're all the same.
 

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2019 Crosstrek 2018 Forester XT
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14,778 Posts
If you drained the tranny oil when the car was perfectly level it will take about 8 oz. short of 1 gallon. If it was on ramps it will be closer to 3 quarts.

To check the tranny the engine must be running.

Use Dexron for the tranny and as pointed out.. drain all the engine oil and start over.
 

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2004 Forester 4EAT
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2000 Forester S
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28 Posts
Check engine oil just in case it's empty

I would get owner's manual out, find engine oil dipstick and verify you have engine oil up to correct level. Drain out the transmission and refill with the proper fluid. Repeat to get all the engine oil out.
 

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2006 Forester XT
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657 Posts
You just need tranny fluid that meets the JASO 1-A standard, doesn't have to be Subaru.
When you drain the pan, about one US gallon comes out, so just put a full jug in then drive around a bit and check the level, warm.
The overfilled oil sump will be fine after you drain it down - good decision not to drive further!

S
 

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2008 Forester X Premium 5MT
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8,064 Posts
DON'T FORGET TO DRAIN AND FILL THE OIL.

As others have said you are not the first.

Fill the trans, consult the manual for the fluid. If you need a manual it can be downloaded at mysubaru.com .

3qts is a good starting point for the initial refill. Then check fill as needed.

Redo the drain and fill on the oil, could probably leave the filter on that you just put on.
 

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1998 Forester
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213 Posts
Alright so I changed the oil in my 2003 Subaru Forester XS for the first time last night and everything seemed to go pretty well. Apart from the ratchet slipping off the oil pan bolt and my hand hitting the bottom of the car it was a relatively easy thing to take care of.

Well that's what I thought. This morning I pulled the car out to go to work and its rpm stayed around 2 when it was just in park then dropped a bit when i put it in reverse. As I tried to give it some gas to get out of the driveway it seemed to just be really sluggish and not have much power behind it. Then the same thing happened when i shifted into drive. I pulled over in front of my house because I was worried that if i kept driving it I would end up exasperating the problem. I'm almost positive I drained the right fluids.

I used a 17mm socket which from what I've read around here is the appropriate size for the oil pan. I will have to look when i get home but I believe I also put in the correct weight of oil as well.

I am really at a loss as to what to do next. Any ideas?
One thing I forgot about, did you also change the spin on filter for the transmission? A oil filter will spin on and it will cause problems.
 

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2003 XS
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26 Posts
Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Wow you guys are amazing!! They called me crazy when I said that one of the big reasons for buying the forester was because of the awesome online community!!

Back to the serious part here, I didn't change the transmission filter for sure so I am good on that. When I drained the oil yesterday the plug shot off into the bucket because of all the pressure behind it.

So from what I gather I'm going to need just under 1 gallon of Dexron 3 trans fluid and another 4.4 quarts of oil. I think I can do this.. *fingers crossed* Is there any special way I should add the transmission fluid? I've read a few posts around here about people adding then draining then adding then draining the transmission fluid. Is this something I should consider?
 

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2004 Forester 4EAT
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5,462 Posts
If you are just topping off what you drained, then just add enough to refill. There is actually about 12 quarts of trans fluid total in our cars. It is (nearly) impossible to change all of it DIY style. Most recommend draining and refilling 3-5 times with about 50-100 miles between drains. This will change out most of the fluid. Another school of thought is to just drain and refill every time you change your oil. Change the filter every 30k miles. You get to decide what you think is the best way.
 

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2006 Forester XT
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657 Posts
So from what I gather I'm going to need just under 1 gallon of Dexron 3.........

So I look forward to your next post -
"I contaminated my Tranny with Dexron3 - How do I get it out?"

Subaru fluid is a high-torque spec that's thinner than Dexron. If it don't meet the JASO spec, don't put it in.
 

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2003 XS
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26 Posts
Discussion Starter · #19 ·
So from what I gather I'm going to need just under 1 gallon of Dexron 3.........

So I look forward to your next post -
"I contaminated my Tranny with Dexron3 - How do I get it out?"

Subaru fluid is a high-torque spec that's thinner than Dexron. If it don't meet the JASO spec, don't put it in.
Wait what?! the dip stick for it and the manual said to use Dexron III.
 

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2008 Forester X Premium 5MT
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8,064 Posts
2003 is dex III, don't worry.

The change over to Subaru/idemitsu ATF didn't happen until later years(2006+).
 
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