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2004 subaru outback slow trans engagement ...with karma tale

In the mornings, backing out of the drive, when my girlfriend puts it into reverse, about 3 seconds later it engages.

60k, bought new, now Subaru tells me they will look at it for $100.00 diagnostic charge. This and the real slow way he responded as I told him the story, sends me to you guys for help.

The only crazy thing that I did was the first time I changed the oil I reached up and pulled the trany filter by mistake. I immediately replaced it and put new fluid @3000 miles. Of course I never lived this mistake down, and Kathy was the loudest of the laughing with the obligatory finger pointing.

When I got to the Subaru parts counter, they secretly admitted this to be a common mistake. When it was time for the second oil change Kathy announced she was going to do it herself, not trusting her brand new car to a guy like me. This was just as the Karmic pendulum was to swing!How fortunate for me! When you see that red tranny fluid in the pan, you know it is just too late. This car got 2 complete tranny changes in the first 6000 miles! We have laughed about it for years.

But back to the original question. Does anybody know about these transmissions and their problem?

You’d be amazed how common this is, especially at quick-change oil places. They often drain the front differential, then pour 5 qts of oil into the engine. The customer leaves with an empty differential and an engine with 9 or ten quarts of oil in it.

Calamity ensues!

Has the transmission fluid been changed between 6,000 miles and 60,000? How many times?

Is the transmission fluid at the proper level right now?

I looked it up and I did the first change 3800 miles, but I mis-spoke and noticed that Kathy did her change on the 5th oil change 12/31/05 at a mileage of 18,051. I’m going to have to check the current level later this evening.

I can report that I never had any issues with the automatic trans on either my '97 Outback or my '02 Outback, and that includes odometer mileage up to 145k. However, these cars had their trans fluid changed every 3 yrs/30k miles, without fail.

Check the ATF level as a first step and pray that the level is only slightly low and this problem has not been going on too long.

You do know that if the transmission fails on this car or has a problem, due to your actions or not, that you will be blamed for it until the end of time?

Based you your suggestions and those of the others, I will ck level, but also replace my overdue fluid.
As per your second observation,well I know I am talking to a fellow librarian, a quick review of my records indicate that this will be an entry in volume 9, book 135, line 937 just under yesterday’s entry of “failure to empty the old leftovers from the refrigerator prior to taking out the garbage.”