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  #1  
Old 12-21-2010, 04:25 PM
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Transmission fluid drain, refill and "how the hell do I read the dipstick!"

After diagnosing my valve cover gasket leak, the mechanic did my second drain and refill of the ATF along with changing out the internal filter. The last time they drained it, only about 4 quarts came out. I brought about 5.5 quarts with me and he said it was still reading low. Clearly more drained out this time. I came home and checked the level again after a 20 minute drive and it did seem low. But, damn, this is hard to read! It looked like it was just above the cold "L" mark. The little hole was filled but it was hard to say how much higher the fluid really was. I added about another half quart but had a hell of a time reading the levels. Clearly it takes a very long time for the fill tube to drain. But I don't want to keep the car idling forever. Do you guys have a procedure to get a good accurate reading on the dipstick? It always seems like there are dry sections all over the stick and wet sections high up the stick.

And does anyone have a feel for how many quarts are needed to get you from the cold "L" to the hot "L" (same as the cold "F"?) and from the hot "L" to the hot "F"?
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1996 Subaru SVX LSi, 149,XXX miles, Redline D4 ATF, Redline 75W90 gear oil, K&N HP-4001 Oil Filter, Mobil 1 0W40 and 5W30 High Mileage Oil Blend, Motul RBF600 Brake Fluid, AC Delco A975C Air Filter, NGK BKR6EIX-11 plugs, StopTech Cross Drilled Front and Rear Rotors, Akebono ProACT Brake Pads
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  #2  
Old 12-21-2010, 05:17 PM
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Re: Transmission fluid drain, refill and "how the hell do I read the dipstick!"

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Originally Posted by Huskymaniac View Post
Do you guys have a procedure to get a good accurate reading on the dipstick?
...everyone does!

Keith
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  #3  
Old 12-21-2010, 07:19 PM
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Re: Transmission fluid drain, refill and "how the hell do I read the dipstick!"

you could sand the end of the atf dipstick down make it ruff, and paint it a flat black. nothing too smooth. then the atf will stick to it and measure alot easier.
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  #4  
Old 12-21-2010, 07:27 PM
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Re: Transmission fluid drain, refill and "how the hell do I read the dipstick!"

I choose to ignore the atf spattered 2 inches above all the markings on the dipstick and go solely with which hole is filled. Dunking the stick in atf is going to fill the holes. Dragging it against atf splashed up the tube can account for the rest of the mess but it won't consistently fill the holes. Right or wrong, thats my method.
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  #5  
Old 12-21-2010, 10:28 PM
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Re: Transmission fluid drain, refill and "how the hell do I read the dipstick!"

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Originally Posted by immortal_suby View Post
I choose to ignore the atf spattered 2 inches above all the markings on the dipstick and go solely with which hole is filled. Dunking the stick in atf is going to fill the holes. Dragging it against atf splashed up the tube can account for the rest of the mess but it won't consistently fill the holes. Right or wrong, thats my method.
Yeah, that's what I was defaulting to. The problem is that my fluid is so clean, I can barely see it on the stick! Now I must knock on wood and hope that it wasn't grossly underfilled to the point of causing damage.
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1996 Subaru SVX LSi, 149,XXX miles, Redline D4 ATF, Redline 75W90 gear oil, K&N HP-4001 Oil Filter, Mobil 1 0W40 and 5W30 High Mileage Oil Blend, Motul RBF600 Brake Fluid, AC Delco A975C Air Filter, NGK BKR6EIX-11 plugs, StopTech Cross Drilled Front and Rear Rotors, Akebono ProACT Brake Pads
2005 Acura RL, 128,XXX miles, Redline D4 ATF, Mobil 1 0W40 and 0W20 High Mileage Oil Blend
2009 Toyota Venza, 78,XXX, Mobil 1 5W30 High Mileage Oil
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  #6  
Old 12-22-2010, 05:55 AM
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Re: Transmission fluid drain, refill and "how the hell do I read the dipstick!"

You will find that if your ATF level is too low, your torque converter will not lock up at highway speeds, or may lock and unlock randomly.

From personal experience on my 96 Polo

,
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  #7  
Old 01-01-2011, 10:14 PM
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Re: Transmission fluid drain, refill and "how the hell do I read the dipstick!"

Quote:
Originally Posted by immortal_suby View Post
I choose to ignore the atf spattered 2 inches above all the markings on the dipstick and go solely with which hole is filled. Dunking the stick in atf is going to fill the holes. Dragging it against atf splashed up the tube can account for the rest of the mess but it won't consistently fill the holes. Right or wrong, thats my method.
I topped off the level the next day. The car was cold so I used the cold marks on the stick. It looked like I got high enough to just barely fill the bottom circle. I figured that was good enough and stopped. I brought the car to the garage the next day for the valve cover gasket change. When I drove it back, the car was warm so I checked the level again. Now it looked like all three holes were filled but the stick was not wetted well. There were voids below the top circle and there was some ATF on part of the stick above the top circle.

This morning I checked it cold again, after cycling through the gears of course and keeping the engine running. The level looked to actually be below the bottom circle?! None of the circles were filled but the fluid looked to be just below the bottom one. So I took the car for a 10+ mile drive with a mix of city and highway driving. Immediately after getting back I checked the stick and the first check showed two filled circles but the top one wasn't filled. My son's opinion was that the fluid looked to be about mid-way between the top two circles. I checked it again and the top circle was filled!!! But, again, the wetting is inconsistent. I even took a wire brush to the stick to rough it up but the wetting still isn't complete and even on the stick. It almost looks like the fluid is splashing up into the fill tube when driving and some of the fluid on the walls of the tube is getting on the stick when I check it. I suppose it is possible that I am just barely at the top circle and so it fills sometimes but not always.

Comments?
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1996 Subaru SVX LSi, 149,XXX miles, Redline D4 ATF, Redline 75W90 gear oil, K&N HP-4001 Oil Filter, Mobil 1 0W40 and 5W30 High Mileage Oil Blend, Motul RBF600 Brake Fluid, AC Delco A975C Air Filter, NGK BKR6EIX-11 plugs, StopTech Cross Drilled Front and Rear Rotors, Akebono ProACT Brake Pads
2005 Acura RL, 128,XXX miles, Redline D4 ATF, Mobil 1 0W40 and 0W20 High Mileage Oil Blend
2009 Toyota Venza, 78,XXX, Mobil 1 5W30 High Mileage Oil
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  #8  
Old 01-02-2011, 12:44 AM
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Re: Transmission fluid drain, refill and "how the hell do I read the dipstick!"

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Toney, are you also having problems with your transmission not functioning correctly?

Keith
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  #9  
Old 01-02-2011, 08:03 AM
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Re: Transmission fluid drain, refill and "how the hell do I read the dipstick!"

..

From the Factory Service Manual





Seems like on the HOT side the dipstick, the bottom and center holes should be filled filled and the top one is open.

On the COLD side of the dipstick, only the bottom hole should be filled.


.
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File Type: jpg ATF level.jpg (24.7 KB, 2786 views)
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Old 01-02-2011, 11:54 AM
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Re: Transmission fluid drain, refill and "how the hell do I read the dipstick!"

Quote:
Originally Posted by svxcess View Post
..
Seems like on the HOT side the dipstick, the bottom and center holes should be filled filled and the top one is open.

On the COLD side of the dipstick, only the bottom hole should be filled.
.
Agreed but it is maddening when the number of circles filled changes every time you put the damn stick in. And they imply that the fluid level will go from just below the second circle cold to just above the second circle hot. My level seems to be changing more than that. It seems to be going from some level very close to the bottom circle to some level very close to the top circle. But I am not sure that is really accurate because of the inconsistent wetting. I will say that the level is DEFINITELY below the second circle when cold.

Also, I don't notice any symptoms of the fluid being underfilled. There is no feeling of "slipping" or harsh shifts. The level is probably fine. I just wish I could tell for sure by looking at the stick!!!
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1996 Subaru SVX LSi, 149,XXX miles, Redline D4 ATF, Redline 75W90 gear oil, K&N HP-4001 Oil Filter, Mobil 1 0W40 and 5W30 High Mileage Oil Blend, Motul RBF600 Brake Fluid, AC Delco A975C Air Filter, NGK BKR6EIX-11 plugs, StopTech Cross Drilled Front and Rear Rotors, Akebono ProACT Brake Pads
2005 Acura RL, 128,XXX miles, Redline D4 ATF, Mobil 1 0W40 and 0W20 High Mileage Oil Blend
2009 Toyota Venza, 78,XXX, Mobil 1 5W30 High Mileage Oil

Last edited by Huskymaniac; 01-02-2011 at 11:58 AM.
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Old 01-02-2011, 01:39 PM
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Re: Transmission fluid drain, refill and "how the hell do I read the dipstick!"

I always look at the back side of the ATF dipstick.
The side that faces the firewall.
And usually it takes three times to get an accurate reading.
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Old 01-02-2011, 01:47 PM
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Re: Transmission fluid drain, refill and "how the hell do I read the dipstick!"

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Originally Posted by Huskymaniac View Post
Comments?
The way I see it is you have good news and bad news, Tony...

The bad news is not nearly as bad as the good news is good. The good news that you have no problems with your transmission.. That surpasses, by far, the bad news that you are unable to check fluid level in a transmission.

My comment would be... perhaps for "piece of mind" going back to a Subaru dealer and asking them to recheck your transmission fluid level. My thought would be that they would be willing to do this at no charge.

Granted, there would be some expense for fuel to drive there, but the resulting piece of mine would far overshadow that minimal expense!

That would be my best recommendation.

Have a great and prosperous new year!

Keith
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Old 01-02-2011, 03:54 PM
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Re: Transmission fluid drain, refill and "how the hell do I read the dipstick!"

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Originally Posted by svxfiles View Post
I always look at the back side of the ATF dipstick.
The side that faces the firewall.
And usually it takes three times to get an accurate reading.
Thanks Tom. I did try to look at both sides but I couldn't get a good read on either. There always seems to be some ATF dripping down one half of the stick. By that I don't mean one side/face but one half and the half is the half where the top circle is located as they are staggered.

Do you have a feel for how much the level should rise from cold to hot?
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1996 Subaru SVX LSi, 149,XXX miles, Redline D4 ATF, Redline 75W90 gear oil, K&N HP-4001 Oil Filter, Mobil 1 0W40 and 5W30 High Mileage Oil Blend, Motul RBF600 Brake Fluid, AC Delco A975C Air Filter, NGK BKR6EIX-11 plugs, StopTech Cross Drilled Front and Rear Rotors, Akebono ProACT Brake Pads
2005 Acura RL, 128,XXX miles, Redline D4 ATF, Mobil 1 0W40 and 0W20 High Mileage Oil Blend
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Old 01-02-2011, 04:40 PM
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Re: Transmission fluid drain, refill and "how the hell do I read the dipstick!"

Hi Tony,
I have used the partial drain and fill PM method for years on my 87 Jag XJ6 and now on two of our SVXi and both Outbacks. I ran into the hard to read dipstick phenomena. I suggest using a graduated paint bucket to catch the drain ATF, then just add back the same amount. It has worked well for me, after the ATF discolors a bit, it is much easier to read...
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Old 01-02-2011, 05:11 PM
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Re: Transmission fluid drain, refill and "how the hell do I read the dipstick!"

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Originally Posted by processengr View Post
Hi Tony,
I have used the partial drain and fill PM method for years on my 87 Jag XJ6 and now on two of our SVXi and both Outbacks. I ran into the hard to read dipstick phenomena. I suggest using a graduated paint bucket to catch the drain ATF, then just add back the same amount. It has worked well for me, after the ATF discolors a bit, it is much easier to read...
Gordon, has your ATF level been altered, or adjusted, this weekend?
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