Big Transmission fluid Leak -- urgent repair

Hey there,

I’m low on funds and have a friend with the know how that will do the work for a very very good deal but I’m gathering any helpful information before I move forward with this repair…

I have a 1995Subaru Legacy LS AWD automatic 4spd 2.2L 4cyl.

The transmission is leaking 1-2 qts of oil a day… When I add a fresh 2 qts the car returns to normal shifting (I think 3rd and 4th gear are gone now though)

What I’ve done so far: Tried several different brands of Stop leak, and transmission sealers (the latest one being BlueDevil). No change with these added…

I had a friend take a look underneath and he believes its the rear seal that needs to be replaced. (Smoke rises from the fluid leaking onto the hot catalytic converter)

Couple concerns here… is buying the seal and the transmission is actually leaking from a different seal…or maybe its not a seal issue at all and if not what else could it be?

Are all seals the transmission could be leaking from the same? So If I purchase one seal will it work for all seals?

Drive shaft seal
Transmission pan seal
Input shaft seal
Valve body seal

Unfortunately I have had to drive the car with 0 fluid going 10mph in 1st gear when the fluid has run out over night and I didn’t have more on hand.

anyways, yea this subaru is old but I’m attached and would rather repair this than give up on it.

ANY feed back what so ever is greatly appreciated. Opinions, options. what to do or not to do. etc.


Depending on how much you trust your friends diagnosis, you may want to crawl under and take a look for yourself.

If it is the driveshaft seal, this is an easy job for anyone with minimal tools and experience as is the pan seal/gasket.

Which ever the source of the leak…never drive it that low on fluid. You may have done so much damage from that one short trip that the tranny is now toast and replacement is the only option.
Next time call a friend for a ride, or knock some little kid off his bike as he rides by and use that.

If third and fourth gear don’t work, you may be better off driving it to a trusted Tranny shop and have them take a look.


If third and fourth are gone the leak is the least of your worries. Sounds like you need a rebuild. And in answer to your question on seals - they’re all different.

in reply to Yosemite,

The friend is a trained mechanic so I trust it and I also crawled under myself to confirm, but this was with a simple jack in a parking lot so a really thorough diagnosis was not possible at the time…

I completely agree driving with no or low fluid is horrible, so far there appears to be no immediate damage, once fluid levels are good (temporarily of course) it shifts fine.

The 4th gear issue has been there for a few months…hit about 65mph, rmps clear 3k and no more speed gained. I slow down to 55-60 and cruise.

At that time I immediately checked fluid levels and they were fine, after some research the 4th gear issue can be a few other things non specific to the transmission…I’ve just lived without the 4th gear since then mainly cause the cars uses are in city limits with low speed limits and of course money hasn’t been terrific.

Thanks for the reply, any other insight is appreciated.

Running the transmission very low on fluid and this happening more than a few times is not good.
An automatic can be ruined in seconds, not minutes, when the fluid is low.
Odds are if the pan on the transmission is dropped you will find it full of a brownish black sludge and possibly metallic filings. That sludge is friction material from the clutches so the transmission’s days are numbered.

If it were me, I’d do some footwork and look for a low miles used transmission to install. Before installing a used transmission change the engine rear main seal and the front pump seal on the transmission. Those are the 2 that require removal of the engine or trans if they leak so it’s best to head that problem off before it starts.

It sounds like the pan needs to be dropped, possibly the valve body too. And the seals assessed. At that point you’ll know what to expect.