How to Check the CVT Transmission Oil Level in Your Subaru Forester: A Step-by-Step Guide for Maintenance

If you’re a Subaru Forester owner, you know that it’s essential to keep your vehicle in excellent condition. One way to ensure that your car runs smoothly is by checking your CVT transmission oil regularly. The oil helps to lubricate and cool your car’s transmission components. If you drive your car with low oil levels, it can damage the transmission and lead to costly repairs. This guide will show you how to check the CVT transmission oil level and maintain it at the right level for optimal performance.

What is a CVT transmission, and why does it need oil?

A continuously variable transmission (CVT) is an automatic transmission that uses a belt and a set of pulleys to change the gear ratios continuously. Unlike conventional transmissions, CVTs do not have fixed gear ratios, which results in smoother acceleration and improved fuel economy. However, CVTs require regular maintenance to stay in good condition.

The CVT oil lubricates the transmission’s moving parts, including the belts, pulleys, and bearings. It also helps to cool the transmission, which is essential for prolonging its lifespan. Therefore, checking the CVT oil level and adding more oil if necessary is crucial for keeping your Subaru Forester’s transmission running smoothly.

How to check the CVT transmission oil level

To check the CVT oil level, you’ll need the following items:

  • A clean cloth or paper towel
  • A CVT oil level gauge
  • A funnel (optional)
  • Genuine Subaru CVT fluid
See also  How to Conquer Mountain Roads with Your 2005 Subaru Forester X

Here are the steps to check the CVT transmission oil level:

  1. Start your car engine and let it idle for at least 5 minutes to warm up the transmission.

  2. Turn off the engine and engage the parking brake.

  3. Locate the CVT dipstick, which is near the transmission’s front left side.

  4. Remove the dipstick and wipe it clean with a clean cloth or paper towel.

  5. Reinsert the dipstick all the way back in, making sure it’s seated firmly in place.

  6. Remove the dipstick again and check the oil level. The oil level should be between the high and low marks on the dipstick.

  7. If the oil level is low, you’ll need to add more oil. First, use the funnel to avoid spilling the oil and making a mess. Then, slowly pour the CVT fluid into the dipstick tube until it reaches the recommended level.

  8. Recheck the oil level with the dipstick.

  9. Reinsert the dipstick and make sure it’s seated firmly in place.

Tips to protect your CVT transmission

Here are some additional tips to protect your CVT transmission:

  • Maintain the CVT fluid at the recommended level and replace it at the scheduled maintenance intervals.
  • Check for leaks regularly and repair them promptly. Leaks can cause low oil levels, which can damage the transmission.
  • Use only genuine Subaru CVT fluid, as using other fluids can damage the transmission.
  • Avoid towing heavy loads or driving aggressively, as it puts extra strain on the transmission and can cause damage.
  • If you notice any unusual noises or vibrations, take your car to a Subaru technician for an inspection.
See also  Save Money on Car Repairs: When to Replace Spark Plugs in Your Subaru Forester

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: How often should I check my Subaru Forester’s CVT transmission oil level?

A: It’s recommended to check the CVT oil level every 6 months or 6,000 miles, whichever comes first.

Q: Can I use any type of CVT fluid in my Subaru Forester?

A: No, you must use genuine Subaru CVT fluid. Using other fluids can damage the transmission.

Q: How much CVT fluid do I need to add if the oil level is low?

A: The amount of fluid you need to add depends on how low the oil level is. It’s best to add small amounts at a time and recheck the oil level until it reaches the recommended level.


Checking the CVT transmission oil level in your Subaru Forester is easy and can save you from expensive repairs. By following the steps outlined in this guide and maintaining your car’s transmission fluid at the right level, you can ensure that your car runs smoothly and efficiently. Remember, prevention is always better than a cure, so make sure to check the oil level regularly and address any issues promptly.

Avatar photo

Alton Brobst

As a longtime Subaru enthusiast, Alton brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to our blog. From his early days of tinkering with engines to his current role as a certified Subaru technician, Alton has seen it all when it comes to Subarus. When he's not working on cars, he enjoys hiking and exploring the great outdoors.

Recommended Articles