Subaru forester 2015, Transmission fluid check

Is it necessary to check (or change) the fluid levels in the CVT and the differentials?

The manual has the following confusing statement for those:
Continuously variable transmission fluid
t is not necessary to check the transmission fluid level. Check that there are no cracks, damage or leakage. However, the fluid inspection should be performed according to the maintenance schedule in the “Warranty and Maintenance Booklet”.

The Maintenance Booklet list inspection every 30k miles for:
Transmission gear oil, CVT fluid, front and rear differential gear oil.

Another question, how is the Transmission gear oil different from the CVT fluid? And should there not be a third differential, or is that part of the transmission?



look at manual fluid specs. subarus use a rear facing transmission which is packaged differently that a typical FWD car. some FWD cars use the same trans fluid for the front diff. many have posted here of mistakenly draining the trans on subarus by mistake when they tried to drain the motor oil. thats the front of car. your rear diff could even use different fluid than the front diff.

This is what I get from the specs section of the manual:

Continuously variable transmission fluid: Fluid type, Consult your SUBARU dealer.

Front differential gear oil (CVT models): SUBARU Extra MT API classification GL-5 (75W-90)

Rear differential gear oil: API classification GL-5

the page is very difficult to understand, as it is under “Manual Transmission” and it’s unclear what note applies to what function. I’ll probably print it out and take it to the dealer for clarification.


I’d bet the CVT box has a very different type of fluid than the diffs. I’d have the dealer (and only the dealer) change the CVT fluid, unless I had crystal clear instructions in hand from the factory.

These cars are designed intentionally so the owner must return to the Dealers shop for routine maintenance and service… To do otherwise risks voiding the warranty…

That is my question. There is no fluid change recommended, just a level check. Do I need the dealer to do that, or can independent repair shops handle it. ?

Part of my confusion is that the manual clearly states “it is not necessary to check the transmission (or differentials) fluid level” yet they state (elsewhere) to check those levels every 30k miles.


Bill you have a very complicated vehicle and it was not cheap. Ours is the same way. I have the dealer handle everything until the factory warranty runs out. This way they have records and they also send email notices to remind us of scheduled maintenance. Why take chances just to save a few dollars?

Volvo: Good point, it’s mostly that the dealer is quite far away. I think I will continue with routine oil changes locally and to the dealer for the rest (every 12k miles, about once a year)


Like I said, I wouldn’t let an independent touch the (relatively) new CVT. Too much chance for a problem. We’ve had questions from folks where somebody put the wrong fluid in the CVT.

You can buy the CVTF-II fluid online in either quart or 5gallon pail size but unless your more local mechanic really knows the procedure it’s probably safer to visit the dealer than risk the warranty. Of course my dealer is almost next door. The opinion of those on the forester forum is to keep and eye out for leaks and otherwise just have it checked on schedule. Owners changing the engine oil themselves have found the CVT drain plug instead by mistake and had to refil (there is a fill plug on the transmission itself) If you really want the local guy to do it at least buy the factory CVT fluid which you can order online.Personally I’d rather just stick with the dealer on this particular item.

OP should point out this ambiguity in the language in the owner’s manual to someone who represents Subaru Corporation, not just to the dealership. Something has gone amiss somewhere in the corporate design review of the vehicle’s documentation package.