How to Change Automatic Transmission Fluid in a Subaru Outback

Written by ehow cars editor
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According to Subaru maintenance guidelines, you should change the automatic transmission fluid in your Outback every 20,000 miles if you use it under normal operating conditions. If you do a lot of towing or hauling, this frequency changes to every 10,000 miles.

Skill level:
Moderate

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Things you need

  • Paper towels
  • Floor jack
  • Jack stands
  • Adjustable wrench
  • Container
  • 8mm hex socket
  • 22mm box end socket
  • Filter
  • Gasket
  • Funnel
  • Automatic transmission fluid

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Instructions

    Drain the Automatic Transmission Fluid

  1. 1

    Drive your Subaru Outback for 10 minutes to warm up the transmission fluid. Park on a level spot. Turn off the engine. Engage the emergency parking brake. Open the hood and secure it using the safety bar.

  2. 2

    Check the automatic transmission fluid (ATF) level and quality. The dipstick is toward the rear of the engine. It is marked ATF Engine Oil. Pull this dipstick out. Wipe it off with a clean paper towel. Look at the fluid on the paper towel. Transmission fluid needs replacing if it is brown. Fresh transmission fluid is translucent red. Replace the dipstick. Pull it out again and look at the level. It should be between the MIN and MAX lines. On certain engines, mostly modified engines, there is no dipstick. This is a closed system. In this case, you will have to proceed with changing the ATF without checking the level and quality.

  3. 3

    Jack the front of your vehicle up with a floor jack. Use jack stands placed under the lift notch about six inches behind the front wheel well on either side of the vehicle. Lock the jack stands in place by lowering the security bar.

  4. 4

    Locate the fluid line that connects the transmission to the radiator. Remove it by loosening the clamp with an adjustable wrench and then pulling on the line gently. The ATF will be hot, so be careful that you don't burn yourself. The transmission attaches to the dipstick well. Place the open end of this line into an empty container, such as an engine oil drain pan.

  5. 5

    Turn on the engine. Make sure that you leave the emergency parking brake engaged. Watch the ATF line for fluid pumping out. Turn off the engine as soon as the flow of ATF stops. Reattach the line to the transmission.

    Install a New Filter

  1. 1

    Detach the drain pan. You will have to get under the vehicle to do this. You will see a solid plate with bolts all around the edges directly under the transmission. Remove the bolts using a 8mm hex socket. Some additional ATF may spill when you do this. Remember that it will be hot. Peel the gasket from the rim of the drain pan.

  2. 2

    Remove any debris from the bottom of the drain pan with a clean paper towel. If it is really dirty, you may need to pour a little transmission fluid on it to help remove some of the sludge. Using water to clean the pan is bad, as water will damage the transmission.

  3. 3

    Look for the 22mm lock nut on the bottom of the transmission filter. This is in opening which became visible when you removed the drain pan. Remove the lock nut using 22mm box end socket. Pull the filter down to remove it.

  4. 4

    Install a new filter. To do this, you have to slide it into the filter port and tighten the lock nut until it is secure.

  5. 5

    Position a new gasket on the drain pan rim and position the drain pan under the transmission so you can replace the bolts. Tighten these by hand until all of the bolts are holding the drain pan. Moving in criss cross pattern, tighten the bolts using the 6mm hex socket until they are secure. Keep in mind that over tightening will dent the drain pan.

  6. 6

    Unlock and remove the jack stands. Lower the vehicle with the floor jack.

    Refill the Transmission Fluid

  1. 1

    Locate the Engine specification sticker on the interior of the hood for the ATF specifications and check the ATF specifications. The sticker states the type of ATF (see Resources) and the amount needed for your vehicle. This varies according to year model and engine size. If you are unable to find the sticker, the information is also in the owner's manual.

  2. 2

    Find the ATF fill port. This is beside the dipstick. Remove the black cap marked ATF or Transmission Engine Oil.

  3. 3

    Put a funnel into the fill port. Pour the appropriate amount of ATF into the funnel. Check the level again. If it is low, add a little more ATF and recheck.

  4. 4

    Replace the black cap and tighten it. Close the hood. Start the vehicle and allow it to idle for 10 minutes to circulate the ATF.

Tips and warnings

  • When you check the ATF level, if it is below the MIN mark, you must have the system serviced. This is a sign that there is a leak.

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