1993 Subaru Legacy Wagon Automatic Transmission Won't Reverse

Reverse stopped working after it’s been driven for a while. It works when it’s cold. I’m actually hoping this was caused by my stupidity (though it may have nothing to do with the problem). A while ago I wanted to change my oil, but opened the auto transmission plug instead. I decided to put new trans. fluid in it. I thought I would add trans fluid until I could see it on the dip stick. After the problem with reverse started I tried to again read dip stick but can’t tell where the level is, so I decided to drain trans. fluid to measure it. Owner’s Manual calls for 8.8 qts. Drained fluid measured only about 4 qts. I added more. Now it looks like dipstick shows it ~2 inches above the full/hot mark. Questions: 1) Would fluid level affect reverse and not forward (with which there is no problem)? 2) Is method of draining trans. fluid & measuring it a valid way of telling how much is in it, i.e. would all… or most… fluid drain out so the 8.8 qts. in the owner’s manual should be added back in? 3) Am I misreading the dipstick? I’ve tried letting it set for 4 or 5 days, but still fluid seems to smear high on the dipstick. 4) Should I just take it to someone who knows what they’re doing?!

You should probably take it someone who at least knows how to check the transmission fluid level - or at the very least look in the owner’s manual for the correct procedure. They typical way is to have the car up to full temperature (like a 20 mile drive or so). You leave it running at idle, cycle through each gear selector position, pausing briefly in each - and then you end in either Park or Neutral (see owner’s manual though someone here probably knows which for this car). Then you check the dipstick.

And yes, improper fluid level can do all sorts of things. Just as crucial to the level is the TYPE - so what kind of fluid did you put in it?

Tran fluid is good for Dexron II which owner’s manual requires. I’ve been reading OIL dipsticks for 50 years with no problems but this one is impossible to read… I’ve tried 20 or 30 times and have tried reading it hot and cold. It just seems to have fluid all over the end of the dipstick.

Just opening the drain plug on an auto trans will not fully drain the trans. A good portion will still be in the torque converter.

Thanks… that’s helpful. Any idea what percentage would drain out?

The amount varies by transmission, but its generally someplace in the vicinity of half.

Service/repair manuals will often provide total system capacities and amounts for different services. If you wanted to be relatively precise you could probably find that info.