2014 Subaru Forester - Mechanic killed my CVT

My mechanic helper was not familiar with Subaru autos ( idid not know this ) I asked for a tire rotation and an oil change. The mech. drained the trans oil before he realized he opened the wrong plug and then drained the correct engine oil , but did not top off the trans fluid requiring a complete replacement. Would you be able to recommend a company that sell remanufactured Subaru Forester CVT?
Thank You

The shop is paying for this aren’t they? This should be on them. Let them hash it out.
And draining the trans by mistake is a quite common problem with Subarus: especially if you’re not familiar with them.

Seriously, how? The engine is longitudinal, the transmission is in the tunnel between the front seats, the transmission drain uses an Allen head screw and is vertical on the side of the transmission and difficult to get to.

A mechanic would have to have his head pretty far up where the sun don’t shine to mix them up.


Thank you for the response.

The shop owner is insistent that his assistant did not go near the drain plug for the transmission.

Subaru is a proponent of your response, I have no recourse except small claims court, court costs, fees etc…

Subaru has located a LK far less then replacing with a new one.

44k miles @ $2,700.00

Thanks again

I think you mean LKQ and that is simply a used transmission. You have no idea if it’s any good.

Ask if you can get the 100k warranty in case the replacement has the bad solenoid in the valve body.

Just curious, how did you find out the CVT was drained? Is the transmission working? Are you just getting a check engine light for the transmission but it is running OK?

A friend of mine did this with a 4wd Tacoma, and I thought the same. Allen head (that I’d have to hunt) vs. a socket for the oil pan (14-15 mm or so I guess?). I guess it happens…somehow.

I’d start by asking at the local auto-parts recyclers to see if they have any wrecked Subarus on their lot that have the same transmission. As long as it isn’t a severe crash, pretty good chance the transmission will still be ok. Even if the local place doesn’t have one, they may be able to have one shipped from another lot somewhere else.

They do, a used transmission has been located for $2,700.

I am a little confused. Did anyone see the transmission being drained or did you hear something that led you to believe the transmission was drained?

If someone didn’t admit it, how are you going to prove it in small claims court. The fluid could have simply leaked out in 100,000 miles.

Was the drain plug pulled to confirm it was empty?

Everything I have read says that 100000 miles id about the life of these transmissions.


When the tech at Subaru pulled the car onto the lift ( I dropped the car off and asked them not to drive , or start the engine ) The first thing noticed was the crush washer was missing not only from the transmission drain plug but also the oil pan drain plug, they drew the conclusion that the person tasked with an oil change realized he had unscrewed the work plug because of the color of the fluid , he then tried to correct it by replacing the transmission drain plug but neglected to top off the fluid level, and continued with the oil change. Never any leakage residue on driveway to indicate a problem.

who or what is a mechanic helper?
does this guy do work on the side? at his house? a shop? fill in work?
he rotated tires and did oil change. he has a lift? sounds like a pro outfit to me

1 Like

This is a family owned business, I have known them for more then thirty years, the mech. works only on Saturdays , and you guessed it that’s the day I brought my car in to be serviced. On good note, the advisor at Subaru has asked his manager to contact Subaru of north America and explained the situation to see if they would or could offer any financial assistance , since I am a “loyal” customer. So maybe something good will come out of this, and the advisor affirmed that the used transmission is 100% covered under all circumstances for 1 year or 12,000 miles.


The error happened at a family owned business, and Subaru is contacting corporate to see if they will help out?

I don’t see how Subaru corporate would want anything to do with this…


Any shop should have insurance to deal with this. if I was in your situation, I would seriously consider telling the shop owner that he is risking 30 years of friendship and loyal service. I would also start warning anyone I know that the shop does not stand behind their work and provide the story as evidence. I would only do it as a last resort, but if the shop really did destroy your transmission, others need to know so they won’t get the same treatment.


i think you are saying low fluid level killed trans?
maybe. really is too bad if the tech did it. i hope not

Subaru even issued a service bulletin about mistakenly draining the front differential while changing the engine motor oil. The usual result if left unattended is a catastrophic failure of the transmission; meaning a high pitched while followed by a loud BOOM when the transmission case splits into 2 pieces.
I’ve faced this situation in the past a number of times and the transmission was not even repairable at all. All because someone did not think before loosening the correct drain plug.

The shop made a common mistake and they should own up to it.


I agree with your reasoning. It comes down to “he said ,she said” and I may be cowering down to the issue but I can not say with 100% certainty, and prove the fault belongs only to the shop and not by the service tech at Subaru when the car was serviced in March earlier this year, any one can error, it would be unquestionable if the recent service was performed by Subaru, and they would own up to it.

As the process moves slowly forward I wonder if the authorities at Subaru North America are debating this very point being , during the March service did the tech open the transmission drain plug, realized the error and quickly replaced it , maybe topping off the fluid but not replacing the crush washer causing a slow leakage resulting in catastrophic failure, I can not say with any certainty, so as this drama plays out I will keep the Car Talk Community apprised of the out come.

Thank you to all for the input.


No crush washer.
Trans is empty?
Did dealer say fluid level was low? How low?
Are you original owner?

How did the car get to the dealer. @JosephIngoglia, you are leaving a lot of critical information out.

Were you able to drive out of the oil change place?

If so, how did it drive?

Did you get a check engine light and if so, what was the code?

What made you think the transmission was drained?

You wouldn’t happen to have around 60k miles on this would you?