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Guest Message by DevFuse

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Tricky ATF dipstick

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18 replies to this topic

#1 Guest_jcniest5_*

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Posted 26 July 2002 - 09:20 PM

I'm having trouble getting a clear reading of the level of my tranny fluid due to my dipstick not getting a clear sign. On one edge, it's wet (fluid sign) all the way to F or so, but on the other edge, it's almost dry like it never touches the fluid at all. I've put like 8 qts already and this thing keeps showing up, making the dipstick unreadable.

Draining all the fluid and reinserting the dipstick show no wet sign, which is good and clear, but what's causing the other edge to be completely dry even if it touches the fluid (assuming it does) even when the fluid pan is full or near its capacity? Putting like 4 qts into the pan and this double-edged reading would show up again. This thing puzzles me to such a degree that I'm afraid I may not have enough fluid or too much fluid.

Is there any danger if there is too much fluid? Or too little? I have a tranny fluid cooler mounted in front of the radiator, does that make any different on the overall capacity of the fluid?

Any hints will greatly be apprecicated.

Thanks in advance.

#2 Guest_applegump_*

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Posted 27 July 2002 - 10:09 AM

I have exactely the same problem,the fluid covers the whole width of the stick till the empty mark, then after that it only covers one side of it.
Does anyone know why?and what the actual reading is?


'90 Legacy 2.2 AWD

#3 Guest_Gerald_*

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Posted 29 July 2002 - 04:05 PM

I have the same problem... it's frustrating, since AT fluid level is considered quite important!

#4 Guest_danny_*

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Posted 29 July 2002 - 08:19 PM

I have the same problem on my 92 legacy 2.2. I am thinking of " roughing up" the area of the stick that reads. Hopefully this will help the fluid attatch to the stick. That or polishing it up so nothing will attatch to easily. Not sure yet but will post results.

#5 Guest_jcniest5_*

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Posted 29 July 2002 - 09:46 PM

I guess only a very few of us are having this problem that's why no one responds nor knows any hints about it. What I've done so far is filling it up to what Hayne says its capacity is, which is 8.8 qts. Since I have a tranny cooler, I'm guessing mine will be 9 qts.

If no one else is having this problem, it's best for us (those who do) to just follow strictly what it says about the tranny's total capacity and go with that. I would say if we put in at least 8 qts after a complete drain, that would be the safest bet.

#6 Guest_FlyStyle_*

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Posted 29 July 2002 - 09:54 PM


do you have any more info about your tranny oil cooler... i really want to put one in, since i saw one for 50 dollars i thought it would be nice.. where did you mount it and how hard was it to install.. do you have any pics??


#7 Guest_jcniest5_*

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Posted 29 July 2002 - 10:30 PM

Ali, it's not hard at all to mount it. You can go to any auto parts store and purchase one. It comes in several flavors, small, medium or large. Large is mostly for bigger vehicle with towing capacity. Medium (the one I have) and small are for any vehicle, if you just need something to keep your tranny oil cooler.

It's basically installed between your A/C condensor and the radiator. It comes with (most if not) all the necessay mounting kits, so it's very easy to install it.

Let me know if you need the real instructions on installing it because I have to look for what I put on and list them here so you can get the necessary parts for this job.

And no, I don't have pictures of it, but if you want, I can take some and post them here if I know how.

#8 Guest_Legacy777_*

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Posted 29 July 2002 - 11:45 PM

When you guys are checking the fluid......are you making sure to warm the trans up....drive around for 15-20 min.....normal driving not racing.......then park on a level surface......shift SLOWLY, from park, to 1st....then back to park again.....allowing the car to sit in each gear for a second or two.....leave the car run, pull the trans dipstick.....wipe it clean, re-insert and check fluid level. You should be able to get a decent reading.....try inserting the dipstick differently.

And yes it is BAD to put too much tranny fluid in the transmission.

#9 Guest_TinyClark_*

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Posted 31 July 2002 - 12:35 AM

I have taken sand paper to both the AT and Oil dipstick on my 96. Why the hell an auto maker would make the oil dipstick black is beyond my normal thought processes.

#10 Guest_danny_*

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Posted 31 July 2002 - 02:53 AM

Tiny how did the sanding work out? Both mine seem so slippery that the oil or fluid don't want to stick. Almost like oil in a teflon pan it seems to cling here and there. They could have at least put a cross hatch pattern on the area that the normal operating level runs in. I had a heck of a time with the tranny fluid after my parts store said only about 2 quarts come out during a normal drain. Plenty of adding and rechecking that day. Whatever caused me to believe only 2 quarts would drain from a pan that size is beyond me.

#11 Guest_Legacy_*

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Posted 31 July 2002 - 06:57 AM

I saw an episode of some show on the speed channel last week some time. 2 guys and a garage I think it's called. Yeah I know they are a bit flaky and act a bit like a married couple but sometimes there is some good info. This particular episode was about vehicle fluids and they showed a neat machine to flush out the AT fluid, all of it. They take the lines from the AT that run to the radiator or cooler and hook it up to a machine which has a large transparent cylinder. The used fluid pushes the piston inside it, and new fluid on the other side of the piston goes back to the car. You let it run for a while until you see new fluid coming out of the car then you know it's done.

#12 Guest_TinyClark_*

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Posted 31 July 2002 - 07:22 AM

The sanding worked well, I have no trouble reading my levels, since the sticks are now bright polished steel. I will add that my oil reading is still screwy, as only the back of the dipstick shows oil to the full mark. The front is basically dry, and I am certain the amount of oil I have in the engine is correct.

I have talked to quite a few ATA mechanics, and they have told me that while a flush will certainly cllear out all the tranny fluid, it still doesn't get what's inside the torque converter that well. I recommend changing what's in the pan a couple of times and leave it go. Just like hydrualic fluid used on the C130's I work on, if it's a good red color, there's nothing wrong with it anyway.

#13 Guest_Philip999_*

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Posted 31 July 2002 - 01:54 PM

Let me add my name to the list of frustrated ATF dipstick readers: jcniest5, applegump, gerald, danny, tinyclark,... philip999.

#14 Guest_jcniest5_*

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Posted 01 August 2002 - 12:32 AM

Perhaps a Subie tech could give us a more direct answer? Seems like no Subie tech is interest in this. Oh well.....

#15 Guest_SmashPDX_*

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Posted 01 August 2002 - 01:15 PM

I hate the tranny dipstick. I prefer to listen to my tranny in the hopes that one day it will tell me what it wants as well as the meaning of life :D

#16 Guest_danny_*

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Posted 05 August 2002 - 12:14 PM

Just wanted to let the other dipstick frustrated members know that I sanded the stick to about 4" up. This really helped. The level is not only easier to see but seems to cling heavier due to the rough surface. It is much easier to get a believable reading. Did it to both atf and motor oil used a rough grit #60.

I used to have a hard time due to my driveway being at a slight angle. It looked like the oil was dripping down the stick and clinging here there and everywhere. Now I just allow for it to show slightly over full but it easily shows where the level is.

#17 Guest_joeo_*

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Posted 05 August 2002 - 09:32 PM

I too have a hard time reading the ATF stick. I go through the whole proceedure, drive car, go through all gears, put into park, leav engine running and check. It's always hard to read. The manual that came with our 1990 Legacy says to drain and then add up to 3.2 quarts. That is no where near enough! I've added about 6, and now it shows up on the stick. The other weird thing, is when reading it cold - it always shows much different than when hot.

#18 Guest_megell_*

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Posted 06 August 2002 - 02:48 PM

Could be a conspiracy from Subaru to make their cars customer maintainance unfriendly, sure seems that way when buying parts that sometimes seem way overpriced. I have noticed on occassion, information of any value is rare from the service dept.
personell too.

#19 Guest_SmashPDX_*

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Posted 09 August 2002 - 01:25 PM

I'm going to archive this thread unless someone has an objection to pulling it off the main board now...

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