Is Subaru’s CVTF Fluid Synthetic? Exploring the Benefits and Drawbacks of Synthetic Transmission Fluids

Subaru owners and enthusiasts often wonder about the type of CVTF fluid used in their cars. Are they synthetic or traditional? What are the benefits and drawbacks of each? In this article, we’ll explore these questions and more to provide a comprehensive look at Subaru’s CVTF fluid.

Understanding CVTF Fluid

First, let’s define what CVTF fluid is. CVTF stands for continuously variable transmission fluid and is used in vehicles with a continuously variable transmission (CVT). This type of transmission doesn’t have gears like a traditional manual or automatic transmission, but instead relies on a belt and pulleys to vary gear ratios.

CVTF fluid, therefore, is specifically designed for use in a CVT and has unique properties that allow it to function effectively in this type of transmission. It provides cooling, lubrication, and pressure throughout the transmission, ensuring it runs smoothly and efficiently.

Synthetic vs Traditional CVTF Fluid

Now, let’s look at the difference between synthetic and traditional CVTF fluid. Synthetic transmission fluid is chemically engineered to offer superior performance and protection, while traditional transmission fluid is made from crude oil.

Synthetic CVTF fluid offers several benefits over traditional fluid. For starters, it provides better oxidation stability, which means it lasts longer and doesn’t break down as quickly. It also has superior cold-weather performance, providing better protection and performance in sub-zero temperatures. Additionally, synthetic fluid has fewer impurities than traditional fluid, so it provides better wear protection and extends the life of the transmission.

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That said, synthetic CVTF fluid is more expensive than traditional fluid, so the cost can be a drawback for some. Additionally, some experts argue that using synthetic fluid in a transmission designed for traditional fluid can cause seal leaks and other issues.

Subaru’s Selection of CVTF Fluid

So, what type of CVTF fluid does Subaru use in its vehicles? Subaru has selected a synthetic CVTF fluid for use in all its vehicles equipped with CVTs. The fluid is specially formulated to meet the unique demands of Subaru’s CVTs and provides superior protection and performance.

Subaru recommends that CVTF fluid be changed every 30,000 miles or 24 months, whichever comes first. It’s important to follow this recommendation to ensure the transmission continues to function as designed and to avoid costly repairs.


Q: What happens if I use the wrong type of CVTF fluid in my Subaru?
A: Using the wrong type of transmission fluid can cause irreparable damage to the transmission. Always use the type of fluid recommended by Subaru to avoid this issue.

Q: Can I use traditional CVTF fluid in my Subaru’s CVT?
A: No, Subaru specifically recommends a synthetic CVTF fluid for use in its CVTs.

Q: Why does Subaru use synthetic CVTF fluid?
A: Synthetic CVTF fluid provides superior protection and performance compared to traditional fluid, and Subaru has selected this type of fluid to ensure their CVTs function at peak performance.


In conclusion, Subaru uses synthetic CVTF fluid in its vehicles equipped with CVTs, providing superior protection and performance compared to traditional fluid. While it may be more expensive, the benefits of using synthetic CVTF fluid outweigh the drawbacks. It’s important to follow Subaru’s recommendations for CVTF fluid changes to ensure the longevity of the transmission and avoid costly repairs.

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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.

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