Maintenance Question on 2005 Subaru Forrester


I recently took my 2005 Subaru Forrester to the dealer for a scheduled oil change, which was free with their maintenance package. Later that day, I got a call from the service rep. saying that the mechanic doing the oil change also recommended that I change the transmission fluid (automatic), power steering fluid, coolant and front and rear differential oils.

My car has 27,600 miles on it. Something didn’t sound right with all of this, but I thought the coolant made sense (I may have been wrong on this) and hold off on everything else. Are my suspicions well-founded or am I wrong in suspecting that they might be misleading.

The car is running great, and I use it mostly on short trips around my home with an occasional road trip.

Any thoughts would be appreciated. Thanks.


The coolant gets changed at 30k miles on a Subaru so valid. Power steering fluid never. The differentials get checked every 30k miles but not necessarily changed but many places do it.

Its all in the maintenance manual if you have it still. Otherwise check out for the schedule and recalls if you enter your VIN.


Sounds like the dealer is using scare tactics to get the bill up. Of all people, the service manager should know what is required. The only thing I would recommend is to Xerox the maintenance pages in your owners manual and put them under the nose of the service “advisor” and his clipboard. Anything that needs checking is often interpreted by many dealers as fair game to CHANGE. If the car is used for rallying, or extended off-road use, some of this could be true. This type of post comes up at least once a week. We normally tell the OP to go to a reputable independent garage (never Sears Automotive; they have been convicted several times of making unneeded repairs), which will charge less and do what you request.


Check your owner’s manual on the coolant. That can vary depending on the car.


While I agree that a reputable independent garage can perform your maintenance and may, indeed, charge less than the dealership, I do want to mention a word of caution. Despite my preference for Subarus, I do have to admit that they can be a bit “odd-ball” to a mechanic who is not familiar with them.

One very good example is the fact that the oil drain plug and the transmission drain plug are, literally, only inches away from each other, and they are identical in appearance. So, even a competent mechanic can mistake these if he is not used to working on Subarus on a regular basis, and there have been numerous instances of ruined engines and/or transmissions when these drain plugs have been mistaken by mechanics who are reputable but are simply not familiar with that make of car.

Since my Subaru dealer charges no more (and, in many cases, less) than independent garages, and since he provides a free loaner car, I have absolutely no reason to look elsewhere for service. Your circumstances may be different, so I would advise that any independent garage that you use is one that frequently has Subarus parked in front of it, in order to have some assurance that they won’t screw up some simple procedures like oil and/or transmission fluid changes.

That being said, I want to repeat what other responders have stated, namely–Read the Subaru Maintenance and Warranty booklet that is sitting in your glove compartment! Be sure that you adhere to the mileage/elapsed time schedule for all of the procedures listed there and be wary when someone suggests services like engine flushes, transmission flushes, and power steering fluid changes.

For the present time, be sure that you are up to date with the procedures listed for 30,000 miles, as failure to perform those services can void your warranty.

Someone can’t be fooled on service procedures if he/she just spends a little time educating himself/herself. And, in this case, the educational materials that you need are sitting in your glove compartment. I don’t think that it gets any easier than that.


I would not worry about changing power steering fluid and the differential oils at this point. Save those for the 100k miles mark.
The trans fluid change should be done IMHO every 30k miles and also the coolant change, no matter what the owners manual says. In some areas, more often is much better.

VDCDriver makes a good point about some Subaru quirks.I’ve seen a number of Subarus suffer trashed transmissions because someone who was not familiar with them would drain the front differential by mistake. This occurred because the drain plug looks similar to an engine drain plug and they are located close together.
Often they would forget to refill the differential, OR check the auto trans fluid level, see it was on the FULL mark, and think everything was fine - not knowing there are 2 separate fluid compartments.
Down the road in a 100 or so miles a large bang would occur and that’s the end of that transmission.



Thank you for the clarification! Apparently it is the differential drain plug, that is very close to and identical to the drain plug for the motor oil.

To the OP–sorry if I confused you. I was obviously a bit confused myself. But, the fact remains that a mechanic who does not frequently work on Subarus could make a very expensive mistake, and that expense could possibly come out of your pocket.