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Subaru Forester Transmissions: Overview, Problems, Fluids

Today, we will discuss today the transmissions used in Subaru Forester throughout its evolution. For this purpose, we have gathered a trove of information. So, let us now dive straight into the topic of our conversation.

Throughout its journey, the Subaru Forester has used several kinds of transmission. In its first generation, it used four-speed automatic and five-speed manual transmissions. During its second generation onward, it has used 4- or 5-speed automatic and 5- or 6-speed manual transmissions, along with CVT.

First and foremost, the above explanation only provides a compact overview. Thus, it is indeed not enough to understand transmissions that went inside the Subaru Forester. During the article, we will see transmissions with different dimensions to comprehend several models that go inside it throughout its evolution. In addition, we will take a look at the cost of replacement and their durability. We will also find out the problems that surface on and off during the lifetime of those transmissions. So, here we begin.

Also read: Types Of Gas A Subaru Forester Takes (All Generations)

What Transmissions Has The Subaru Forester Used?

First Generation (1997–2002)

  • 5-speed manual
  • 4-speed 4EAT automatic

Second Generation (2002–2008)

  • 5-speed manual
  • 4-speed automatic 4EAT
  • 6-speed manual (STI)

Third Generation (2009–2013)

  • 5-speed manual
  • 6-speed manual (diesel)
  • 4-speed automatic 4EAT
  • 5-speed automatic (S-edition)

Fourth Generation (2012–2018)

  • 6-speed manual
  • Lineartronic TR690 and TR580 CVT

Fifth Generation (2018–Present)

  • Lineartronic CVT

How Long Does A Subaru Forester Transmission Last?

The CVT on the Subaru Forester may last up to 300,000 miles without replacement. But, it may require substantial servicing at somewhere around 150,000 miles. For the smooth running of the transmission, experts usually suggest you fix problems right away and ensure the fluid levels are topped.

Also read: The Exact Bolt Pattern Of A Subaru Forester

How Much Does A Subaru Forester Transmission Cost?

It is good to know the costs of several transmissions when you want to replace them. Thus, we have provided them below that are employed in the production span of the Subaru Forester.

  • 4-speed 4EAT automatic: $1,995.00 (SPPrecision)
  • Lineartronic TR580 CVT: $490,00 (eBay)
  • Lineartronic TR690CVT: $375.99 (eBay)

 Common Subaru Forester Transmission Problems

Let us discuss some common problems regarding transmissions that Subaru Forester drivers face while driving. So, here we go.


  • Subaru cars that employ a conventional 4-speed 4EAT transmission suffers from one common problem. When accelerating from a standstill, it may show shaking, shuddering, and slipping.
  • It may also suffer from an overheating issue. If not every time, a driver can often note the problem by seeing a warning light. The transmission temperature begins flashing. It reveals when a car starts or even while driving. To prevent this, always make sure you tow within the towing capacity of the Subaru Forester.
  • What impedes the cooling of transmission fluid and circulation is often connecting hoses and clogged oil coolers. You can confirm by checking the transmission fluid if it exists inside the return line.
  • The transmission fluid pressure can lose as a result of a faulty pressure control solenoid. Consequently, the flow via the oil cooler turns out slow and thus causes overheating. It can also cause issues like delayed and harsh gear changes.


  • Operation in extreme conditions and delayed fluid change can cause a fault in solenoids. A car running with excessive loads can also precipitate the issue.
  • The torque converter can wear and tear as well. It is always good to have it checked by professionals to fix the issue.
  • It can develop an issue that pops up intermittent or continuous growling noise coming from the transmission. It often occurs during acceleration without revealing warning lights.
  • You can determine the problem by driving the car at the speed when the noise turns out the loudest. When it reaches the given speed, you can shift it into a lower ratio. The fault is more probably with the primary pulley bearing when the noise changes its pitch and tone.


  • The TR690 transmission has one common issue related to engine speed. The problem manifests itself at highways when it goes up and down without any input from a driver. The issue flags a check engine light.
  • Another concern concerning the transmission is the CVT fluid leak in the junction of transmission and engine. Given the case, one first prepares a new seal for HTC and takes out the transmission to replace it.
  • One has to exercise care when the transmission receives the installation of a hydraulic converter. There is a significant risk of damaging the front cover in the case of excessive force.

Differences Between Transmissions

The 4EAT is a 4-speed microprocessor-controlled transmission. It has embraced a lock-up torque converter. Except for the first gear, it locks up in all forward gears. The transmission has undergone continuous improvement throughout its journey. It has included and dropped several features over the years. In addition, its design helps maximize fuel economy while being quieter and smoother. For the record, it was incorporated from the first generation through the third generation.

The TR690 and the TR580 are based on a chain variator and are continuously variable transmission. There is also a torque converter to ensure a seamless start-off and expand the range of gear ratio. Compared to the TR690, TR580 is 15% lighter and 100 mm shorter. For this reason, the TR690 is hardly used nowadays. It comes exclusively with powerful engines.

There are also some differences in their configurations. The forward and reverse clutches are present behind the pulleys in the TR690. On the other hand, these two elements are located in front of the pulleys in the TR580. The TR580 is also different when it comes to power flow. It goes through the input shift that contains the forward clutch linked to it. The planet and the reverse clutch are located on the face of the primary pulley. When switching between forward and reverse, it translates that the direction of the pulley rotation shifts.

Transmission Fluids And The Subaru Forester

Car manufacturers suggest changing transmission fluid every 45,000 miles when it comes to transmission fluids. But, it is crucial to note that separate transmissions need different types of transmission fluid. Below, we provided the source of the transmission fluids that work well with various transmissions of the Subaru Forester.