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Automatic Transmission Fluid Change on a Forester


Andrew Hutchings
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Having owned my Forester for 3 months now I thought it'd be worth changing the A.T.F., as I didn't know when it had been changed before, if at all! Although the car's only covered 32,000 miles in 7 years, a change wouldn't do any harm and it all looked pretty easy......

And it is! DON'T BE SCARED!........ Read on!

The great thing about Foresters is the greater clearance under the car than is available with ordinary vehicles, so I utilised this advantage. But, to begin at the beginning (as they say...)

1/ Order a 4 litre tin of Subaru A.T.F., as supplied by your friendly Subaru dealer.( It's about £50 (+V.A.T.) and is the ONLY one recommended by Subaru) Pay for and collect same from dealer!

2/ Ensure you have a 17mm socket, a ratchet, an extension bar (2, preferably, of differing lengths) an oil drainer (if you haven't one of these, an old washing up bowl will do!) and a funnel with a small enough end to fit into the A.T.F. dipstick hole.

3/ Take the car for a run of about 5 miles, to warm up the A.T.F. and park the car on LEVEL ground, select "park" on the gear selector, switch the engine off, put the handbrake on, open the bonnet & pull out the A.T.F. dipstick. 

4/Lie down next to the car, with your head below the front passenger's door (R.H.D.-British cars) Approximately in the middle of the engine you'll see a 17mm plug, on the left hand side of the sump; it's best viewed and reached from just behind the front near-side tyre.

5/ Using your socket, ratchet and various lengths of extension bars, loosen the plug, but NOT ALL THE WAY!

6/ Put your drainer under the plug and completely remove the plug. Try to avoid it falling into the old A.T.F., but if it does, it's not a disaster!

7/ Let it drain away (the reason for pulling the dipstick out at stage 4 is to prevent an air lock, thus slowing the flow rate) until this slows to a dribble.

8/ Put the plug back in, ensuring it's not cross-threaded.

(Now the clever bit...) I measured how much ATF came out of my Forester, so you won't have to, and (surprise surprise!) it's 4 litres!

9/ Put your funnel into the A.T.F. dipstick opening,  check it fits snugly, open your new 4 litre tin of Subaru A.T.F. & s-l-o-w-l-y pour it in. 

10/ Put the used A.T.F. back into the tin & seal it,  put the A.T.F. dipstick back into its hole & go for a spin! Gear-changing should be both smoother & quieter, but check level of ATF once the new fluid's mixed in; the level is marked on the stick. Old A.T.F. should be disposed of at a suitable recycling centre.

This took me an hour, and I can feel the difference! I'll be doing an A.T.F. change every OTHER oil change from now on, so that after a few changes all the A.T.F. will have been changed. It's not a service item according to Subaru, but I reckon it's worth doing! 

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