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Premium Member
2018 Forester XT Touring CVT
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So I just surpassed 60,000 miles and considering having the dealer do a CVT fluid change, since my transmission seems to be much louder and not as smooth operating as when I purchased it. Also seems like my MPG's could be dropping thanks to increased friction from the spent fluid and I'm wondering if it's roughness as of late could be contributing to knock I'm seeing on my Accessport. The last two are speculative, but the noise and rough operation as definitely gotten much worse since new. I'm torn on whether I should have the service performed for various reasons though.

First off the required maintenance interval is pretty damn vague depending on if your driving falls under standard or severe. Under standard driving the fluid is rated for lifetime, but if you fall under severe it is required to be changed every 24,855 miles. Pretty random number for severe and that seems to leave a lot of grey area in between the two intervals. I'd say 70% of my driving is standard and maybe 30% of it is under what Subaru would call severe, so not sure where I stand on the requirement.

Another concern is if my local dealer is even capable of performing the task. I have my doubts, since they botched my first oil change by putting 0w-20 in and I've been doing the majority of my maintenance now. Sounds like the HTCVT fluid change is too complicated to do at home though and requires a special scan tool and other programming procedures.

They quoted me $360 for the procedure, which seems reasonable. Maybe too reasonable though considering that is just about what the cost of the 5 gallon pales of the fluid itself is listed for online. Knowing the non turbo Forester CVT fluid is listed as being like $100 cheaper I made sure they knew I had the turbo model and asked if that changed the price, but they said it wouldn't. Has me thinking they don't know what they're getting into.

I'm just thinking it's a little risky and worrisome considering all of this and the fact that I could be the guinea pig there when I just went out of warranty period and anything they screw up might not be covered. It seems like it could be a situation where issues don't pop up right away, but might haunt me down the road somewhere. I guess that's maybe just the risk I take buying a first model year car when it first comes out and racking up miles so quick haha.

Anyway just curious peoples opinions, since I'm sure others will be having to make this decision soon and knowing replacing a broken HTCVT is like 8k? Should I have the service performed as a precaution, since I've noticed the symptoms of it getting louder, less smooth, and possibly dropping MPG's and contributing to knock events or should I just continue to drive it until a red flag pops up like an AT fluid temp light? I haven't had a light pop up yet, but I've heard of some others that have and their transmissions still seem to be fine. Maybe I'm just being overly paranoid, but like I said these dang transmissions aren't cheap!
 

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2014 Forester XT CVT
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1,359 Posts
I would get it done......I plan to change out my HT-CVT fluid at the dealer.....I have no desire to do this at home and have them blame me for anything.....I would rather blame them......You are in an interesting situation though as you already have 60K miles on your FXT....(I barely broke 8K mile)...additionally you have no warranty now....correct? More reason for you to let them do it....and you could always ask to see the container to make sure they are using the right fluid...don't think they can say no to that......this way it is documented as being changed out by them....in the end....if say something was going to happen to the tranny....they will just blame it on the AP anyway....lol....

I plan on changing out my fluid every 45K....that is how I have always done it..and I guess $300 every 45K isn't so bad....good luck .....
 

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2014 forester XT touring CVT
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I will have mine done at my next service and it will cost free 99 I'll be at 37500 miles and I tld them last time that's since I paid an arm and a leg for the service plan I'd like to have them do it. I got to the dealer in redwood city and the service has always been great! They have a great waiting room, coffee and a little breakfast snacks
 

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2014 Forester XT CVT
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I will have mine done at my next service and it will cost free 99 I'll be at 37500 miles and I tld them last time that's since I paid an arm and a leg for the service plan I'd like to have them do it. I got to the dealer in redwood city and the service has always been great! They have a great waiting room, coffee and a little breakfast snacks
So it will cost you $99 because of the service plan? Not too shabby!
 

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Premium Member
2018 Forester XT Touring CVT
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1,008 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I would get it done......I plan to change out my HT-CVT fluid at the dealer.....I have no desire to do this at home and have them blame me for anything.....I would rather blame them......You are in an interesting situation though as you already have 60K miles on your FXT....(I barely broke 8K mile)...additionally you have no warranty now....correct? More reason for you to let them do it....and you could always ask to see the container to make sure they are using the right fluid...don't think they can say no to that......this way it is documented as being changed out by them....in the end....if say something was going to happen to the tranny....they will just blame it on the AP anyway....lol....

I plan on changing out my fluid every 45K....that is how I have always done it..and I guess $300 every 45K isn't so bad....good luck .....
Haha I know what you mean about the AP. You're damned either way with or without it. I probably should have had the fluid changed before 60k and the AP, but I just couldn't come to a decision about it. I'll take you're advice about seeing the container and was thinking of asking if I could see the fluid they drain out. Would suck if I payed $360 and they didn't do anything.
I will have mine done at my next service and it will cost free 99 I'll be at 37500 miles and I tld them last time that's since I paid an arm and a leg for the service plan I'd like to have them do it. I got to the dealer in redwood city and the service has always been great! They have a great waiting room, coffee and a little breakfast snacks
Nice! Wish I lived closer to that one and wish somebody else would have got this done before me damn it haha. The Santa Rosa dealership I'm going to actually seems to have improved a lot since they changed management and were forced by SOA (from what I hear) to have the Subaru service center be separated from the VW and BMW they used to be combined with. To their credit they cleared some hard set codes and replaced some blown fuses for free after I got a major service done somewhere else and had issues.
 

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2014 forester XT touring CVT
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I know man! I got money for your wheels and tires! My stockers do t have much left! Plus we need to get together and kick it anwways. Maybe U can meet me in Rockland when I have snail tune the fxt up
 

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'15 XT CVT
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1,080 Posts
Okay so here is the deal...

CVT's are built in a clean rooms and are completely contaminate free. This is why there is no dip stick for the CVT because it's a "sealed" system and adding a hole just adds away for bad stuff to get in that otherwise could not.

It's also worth noting the enemies of all oil:
Carbon, Water, Air, Salt, Heat, and Detergent... or Car WASH'D
So the reason the manual is sooo vague is because if you never tow or drive in a manner that over heats the fluid it is very unlikely to get contaminated, which means it won't break down, which means changing it actually introduces air and other possible contaminates into the system. I'd would caution against "flushes" for this reasons especially there is more than one Outback that required a CVT replacement after an improper flush.

The Tourque converter makes this even harder because well you can't do a full drain and fill like oil. Much of that bad fluid is stuck in the converter and short of dismantling half the car you are left with a few options:
1) Change the fluid very frequently with the idea that you always have a % of good fluid, like every 25k miles.

2) Change the fluid 3 or more times in succession using the decay principles: 1/2 fluid change, mix together, 1/2 fluid change(now 1/4 bad fluid) mix together, 1/2 fluid change (now 1/8) original fluid remains...)

3) Flush, knowing this has mixed results so far even at the dealer.

4) Remove the trans to drain it all out and then refill in the car.

Then there is the whole business of following the FSM procedures for inspecting and refilling the fluid (making sure the CVT fluid is at a specified temp which requiring the ability to read that info somehow.

I realise I just lost lost most of you...

So for me I plan to do it it myself at or around 60k unless I know I've got the fluid too hot before then, then I'll change it right away. That fluid is way more important for the CVT than it is for a regular auto.

How will I do this? There is a guide on the Outback forum I plan to follow, understanding there will be some minor differences between our CVT and that one.
 

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2014 Forester XT CVT
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227 Posts
I know this isn't exactly the same but here's some history from my other car that is an 07 altima with a cvt. I changed the fluid at 60k,100k,130. Right now I have almost 145k and it is running great. It's the only thing I do at the dealer because they use a special scan tool as well.

My dealer said that the only damaged transmissions they have seen were ones that didn't have it changed ever. The mechanic who changed it the last time told me the car is running great and gave me his number if I wanted to sell it. I figured id shared my experience with past cvt transmissions because for some this is probably their first cvt. I know it's a Nissan but it's a 8 year old cvt with high mileage. My opinion is change it no later than 60k for cheap insurance.

As per the whole clean room and getting air in, after 3 changes my car is fine. I plan on bringing my XT to the dealer at 50k. I want it done before the power train warranty is up. I hope this is helpful and not too off topic.
 

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2016 Forester XT Premium automatic
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1,072 Posts
I did my own cvt fluid change on my 2015 2.5i .I mistakenly drained the cvt fluid
during my first oil change and had to either get the car towed to the dealer or
study the manuals for the proper way to change it. I did a write up in here of how its supposed to be completed. If you are reasonably competent in the mechanical world and have basic tools you can do it at home. If interested ,I will find my write up . ed
 

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2014 Forester XT Touring CVT
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12,774 Posts
I am at 50k miles and am planning a CVT fluid change.

I went to the dealership today to get an oil filter. While I was there, I asked the service advisor if he had the CVT-HT fluid in stock to perform the change. He didn't know so I went and asked the parts department.

The parts department called Subaru and found out it is only available in 5 gallon buckets. They are going to special order some and let me know when it is in so that I can schedule the service.

So, a piece of advice: Make sure your dealer has the High Torque CVT Fluid (ORANGE) in stock before scheduling your service.

I worry that if I wasn't so inquisitive, would they have just used the normal blue CVT fluid?


Also, in their order book it says the color, so make sure to tell them it is orange! It is listed as CVT-HT (Orange) in their book.
 

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15 Forester XT CVT
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yeah it is best to have the dealerships change the CVT fluid, cause one thing the transmission is 8 grand for most of them and if anything happens then they are on the hook for it.

Another reason to have the dealership do it is in most cases they have to warm the transmission up to a certain temperature then drain and fill as certain temperatures decay.

It is not a simple process and needs to be followed in a certain manner.
 

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'15 XT CVT
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Funny.

Some of you are saying you can make an $8k mistake and trust the dealer to make such a decision.

That's why I'm doing it myself. I don't trust the some of the guys they get to do fluid changes. It's not like they guy they have change fluids is the 20 year veteran that pulls and rebuilds engines. "Fluid flunkies" are usually the ones that wash the cars and have minimal or no supervision.

Not all dealerships are the same. Some are awesome, some are crap. The ones near me aren't awesome, and one isn't crap. Not enough for me. If you have an awesome one near you, great!

I'll be changing my own fluid in the CVT thank you, it's not crazy hard or anything.
 

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15 Forester XT CVT
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Funny.

Some of you are saying you can make an $8k mistake and trust the dealer to make such a decision.

That's why I'm doing it myself. I don't trust the some of the guys they get to do fluid changes. It's not like they guy they have change fluids is the 20 year veteran that pulls and rebuilds engines. "Fluid flunkies" are usually the ones that wash the cars and have minimal or no supervision.

Not all dealerships are the same. Some are awesome, some are crap. The ones near me aren't awesome, and one isn't crap. Not enough for me. If you have an awesome one near you, great!

I'll be changing my own fluid in the CVT thank you, it's not crazy hard or anything.
they are not fluid junkies changing the CVT fluid, My Audi A4 CVT fluid was changed at 60 thousand miles and by an Audi master mechanic. I saw it when he did it and he had the OBD port hooked up to a laptop and a machine that filled and drained the fluid at set intervals as the temperatures dropped. I have no idea if Subaru is as complex but I am for sure having them do it when the time comes. It is better safe than sorry and if anything happens it is 100 percent on them.
 

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2014 Forester XT Touring CVT
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@TheSub

Yes, I did.

They can only change about 6-7 quarts at a time, since they can't flush the system. So I have a mix of new and old fluid in the CVT now.

The cost was around $250 for 6 quarts plus labor.

I have sent a sample of both the new and old CVT fluid off to blackstone for analysis and will post a new thread with the results when I receive them... hopefully by next week.
 
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