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Transmission issue...not enough fluid?


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34 replies to this topic

#1 DupermanDave

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Posted 19 July 2009 - 09:48 PM

So I tried replacing the oil separator plate and decided to stop halfway through the job. Got to separating the tranny and engine and decided to put everything back together. I filled the oil (4.5qts) and the transmission (3 quarts). I read the subaru manual and it said 2.75 quarts of ATF fluid.

Now whenever I engage any gear, it doesnt clunk like it used to, but it doesnt drive well either. I have to give it a load of gas and rev it up a LOT to get it to slowly crawl forward or reverse. It feels a lot like a clutch slipping, only this is an automatic transmission.

Is there not enough transmission fluid? I checked the tranny dipstick and the fluid is at the top and the dipstick is wet. I find it hard to believe the transmission only needs 2.75 quarts, and I put 3 full quarts in.

#2 bheinen74

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Posted 19 July 2009 - 09:54 PM

first off, when you say you got half way thru the job then put it back together......
can you elaborate on that some more. Did you have a gap between the engine and transmission housing? If you did pull it apart some, had you unbolted the flexplate to torque converter bolts thru the access hole?

If you did anything i am talking about on the above, and you did not properly seat the torque converter to the snout of the tranny, then ATF fluid is not even an issue a that point.

You may be in over your head, or maybe not, but we need alot more info than you have provided.

are you sure you are not putting the ATF down the gear oil tube?

#3 davebugs

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Posted 19 July 2009 - 09:56 PM

It's too late now but next time.

Check the fluid while it's dirty and easy to read.

Drain the fluid and measure it.

Put the same qty of fresh ATF back in (clean ATF is MUCH harder to read).

I'm thinking it's 3-4 quarts usually. Last one was overfilled several quarts so that one has me not remembering what is correct(between the Pella and then draining it I got 7 quarts!). But I think I added 3.5 quarts or so.

#4 johnceggleston

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Posted 19 July 2009 - 10:17 PM

i think the manual said 2.75 gals, that's 11 qts, but when you drain it only 3-4 come out.

check it when it's cold with the engine off just to see if you are in the ballpark. you are probably low. low can cause damage. add some to get it close and then check it hot engine running. the dip stick is really hard to read when the car is running.

#5 DupermanDave

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Posted 19 July 2009 - 10:40 PM

first off, when you say you got half way thru the job then put it back together......
can you elaborate on that some more. Did you have a gap between the engine and transmission housing? If you did pull it apart some, had you unbolted the flexplate to torque converter bolts thru the access hole?

If you did anything i am talking about on the above, and you did not properly seat the torque converter to the snout of the tranny, then ATF fluid is not even an issue a that point.

You may be in over your head, or maybe not, but we need alot more info than you have provided.

are you sure you are not putting the ATF down the gear oil tube?


I did not get any gap between the engine and transmission. That's where I got stuck. I didn't begin to pry it apart, so I did not gain access to the torque converter or flex plate. Transmission stayed attached to the engine.

Really, the only thing I did was remove the exhaust, drive shaft, and front CV joints. Transmission was never messed with, other than draining the fluid. I didn't even mess with the shifter cable or anything else.

Even if there was something wrong with the drive shaft to the rear differential, shouldnt the front wheels work to pull the engine? What why would I not feel the transmission engage a gear?

-edit-
I'm reading over the manual again. It says, "when replacing the automatic transmission fluid, usually from 2.6 to 3.2 US qt (2.5 to 3.0 litres) are required."

Then, below that, it says "Fluid capacity: 8.3 qt. *This is total capacity. Do not attempt to refill this quantity when changing the fluid."


http://action.public...st/1799409.page

^^^ Very similar to this guy's post, only no one posts a solution to the issue.

Edited by DupermanDave, 19 July 2009 - 11:16 PM.


#6 johnceggleston

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Posted 20 July 2009 - 06:05 AM

how much fluid drains out depends on how high the front of the car is. if it's level you get one amount, if the front is higher, you get more.

where did you add the ATF? check the dipstick on the other side of the trans.

this really sounds crazy.

#7 grossgary

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Posted 20 July 2009 - 07:02 AM

atf gets all up in the torque converter, lines, radiator, valve body, etc. nowhere near all the atf comes out when you drain the pan like engine oil does.

as for your moving issue, it sounds like your plugs aren't connected.

if you did plug all of the transmission lines in already, pull the main harness connector apart and plug it back in, they can actually "feel" like an air tight seal almost and actually be difficult to fully seat.

if that doesn't help, make sure none of the pins in that connector are bent.

if that doesn't help, when you first start the car - does the POWER or transmission light (some read different things) blink 16 times at start up?

if that's not it, your problem is more ominous but i won't elaborate on that until you check the above.

#8 DupermanDave

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Posted 20 July 2009 - 10:10 AM

if that doesn't help, when you first start the car - does the POWER or transmission light (some read different things) blink 16 times at start up?


Nope. Doesnt blink. No check engine light either.

What do you mean the plugs arent connected? I didn't really mess with any plugs, just the O2 sensors and I snapped those together until they clicked. If they were unplugged, shouldn't I surely get a check engine light?

I added the ATF through the dipstick on the top of the transmission (through the engine bay).

#9 bheinen74

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Posted 20 July 2009 - 10:20 AM

so you filled the ATF on the driver side tube where the starter is?

#10 DupermanDave

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Posted 20 July 2009 - 10:26 AM

so you filled the ATF on the driver side tube where the starter is?


It's actually on the passenger side. The oil filler is on the driver's side. The passenger side is deep down under the engine, so I had to use 2 funnels to fill it.

#11 davebugs

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Posted 20 July 2009 - 11:02 AM

You filled the DIFF!!!!!!

The ATF is by the brake booster on the drivers side hidden by some hoses - where you check the ATF at - same hole.

On the passenger side way down on the tranny is where the DIFF fluid goes.

Now you need to drain that. It's supposed to be heavy oil in there (and probably non-detergent). Certainly not light high detergent ATF.

#12 grossgary

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Posted 20 July 2009 - 11:09 AM

It's actually on the passenger side.

Subaru Automatic transmissions have two separate fluids - transmission fluid and gear oil for the front diff.

The ATF is filled on the drivers side, there's a dipstick below the starter.

Transmission gear oil (for the front diff) is filled on the passengers side.

So which did you drain? Which did you fill and with what?

#13 grossgary

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Posted 20 July 2009 - 11:11 AM

you posted when i was typing, i'm thinking the same thing.

#14 DupermanDave

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Posted 20 July 2009 - 11:41 AM

When I follow the dipstick hole, it has a metal tube leading back to the driver's side of the engine and back to the transmission and plunges into the upper part of the tranmission fluid pan.

I'm hoping it is a stupid simple mistake and not something complicated. I'll take another look this evening, but I never saw any dipstick by the starter.

Why does the manual even say to refill it in that area? I doublechecked and I was NOT reading the differential section, I'm 100% sure it was the automatic transmission fluid section.

I drained the transmission. Never touched the drain bolt for the front differential.

#15 johnceggleston

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Posted 20 July 2009 - 11:49 AM

the dip stick for the ATF is about 2 feet long, the dip stick for the front diff is about 2 inches long.

the diff is on the passenger side and the ATF is on the drivers side under the ac lines. check them both.

#16 DupermanDave

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Posted 20 July 2009 - 11:58 AM

Uh oh. my memory is coming back to me. Perhapse I did make a boo boo. Only way for me to be sure is to check the car, which I can't do until tonight. Hopefully it's an easy drain and fix.

Now that both have to be drained, how much of each fluid should I use? How many quarts does the differential use and what weight is recommended? How many quarts does the transmission use?

#17 grossgary

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Posted 20 July 2009 - 12:37 PM

The rear diff takes less than a quart, I can't recall the front but it's not much different, definitely less than two quarts.

The ATF just depends on a number of things but it'll be around 4 quarts you'll get out.

So which did you fill incorrectly? Hopefully just the front diff since you can get all of that out with one drain/refill. The trans is trashed anyway right, so not too big of a deal?

You might want to get an owners manual, they're well worth it. They specify all fluid capacities and types to use in what temperatures/climates/driving conditions and all sorts of other things like towing, tire size, rotations, 4WD, etc. Well worth the couple dollars off ebay or a member here.

#18 DupermanDave

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Posted 20 July 2009 - 12:46 PM

So which did you fill incorrectly? Hopefully just the front diff since you can get all of that out with one drain/refill. The trans is trashed anyway right, so not too big of a deal?


I filled the dipstick on the passenger side, so according to this thread it's the front differential.

Transmission wasn't trashed originally, but could be now. We didn't run it that long. I just put it in neutral, backed it out of the garage by letting it coast, and then tried putting it in gear. That's when I noticed it wouldnt engage and I played around with it very carefully, because I didn't want to damage or melt anything if it was a low fluid issue. So transmission should still be fine. (im hoping)

#19 bheinen74

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Posted 20 July 2009 - 01:07 PM

the front diff, gear oil i think is 1.7 liters....? and that is filled on the passenger side, the right side of the car short dipstick tube right at the housing

The ATF fluid is going to probably be 4 qts or around that. Its the LONG dipstick tube on the driver side, kinda where the starter, brake fluid and heater hoses go along.
If i re read my post on this thread on #2, I am glad i asked the last sentence.

#20 davebugs

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Posted 20 July 2009 - 01:15 PM

You may not be too bad off. Definately not as bad as if you put diff oil into the auto trans.

The diff takes less than 2 quarts. Drain it and fill it with the correct stuff like 80w90 or whatever gear oil. I forget - it's up in the garage.

Check the ATF level - it is probably real low if you originally drained red/dirty fluid. Figure adding roughly 3.5 quarts there. May be worth removing the 17mm drain on the ATF again so that you are sure you're starting with the pan empty. Fill it through the same hole that you used to check it on the long dipstick with a yellow top.

The dipstick with a metal loop pic where the new gear oil goes.


Take your time. Do one at a time.

If this works you'll probably end up drain/filling the diff again after a few miles (atleast I would).

#21 DupermanDave

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Posted 20 July 2009 - 01:35 PM

Subaru manual is supposed to be here today (that's when shipping estimate was.)

Where's the differential drain plug? I *THINK* i know where it is and see it, but I *THOUGHT* i knew where the transmission fill spot was.

I SWEAR the manual says to fill the transmission where I did. I can even get pictures. In fact, I *WILL* get pictures. I'm not saying you guys are wrong, I certainly trust you guys more than the manual now.

#22 bheinen74

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Posted 20 July 2009 - 01:40 PM

best way to describe the 2 drain plugs is

the ATF drain plug is on the bottom side of a black metal pan up under center part like under the shifter part of the bottom of the car

and the gear oil drain is located on the aluminum finned portion of the transmission more towards the engine crossmember and steering rack

#23 DupermanDave

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Posted 20 July 2009 - 01:42 PM

best way to describe the 2 drain plugs is

the ATF drain plug is on the bottom side of a black metal pan up under center part like under the shifter part of the bottom of the car

and the gear oil drain is located on the aluminum finned portion of the transmission more towards the engine crossmember and steering rack


YESSSS. The aluminum finned block. I know where that is, and I thought that was it.

#24 davebugs

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Posted 20 July 2009 - 01:55 PM

At this point drain them both and start over.

Both get filled through the dipsticks. The short passenger side one gets gear oil. Less than 2 quarts.

The long one with a yellow top dipstick should take 3.5 or so - between 3 and 4 quarts it seems(see torgue converter, etc. discussions) of ATF.


Let us know what you get out of each. Color and qty.

#25 bheinen74

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Posted 20 July 2009 - 01:57 PM

this one time, at a junkyard, I found a automatic tranny and the gear oil was full of antifreeze......so people really do screw this up.....




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