If you accidentally drained the transmission fluid instead of the oil in your Subaru, do not start the engine. Seek professional help or refer to your Subaru’s owner’s manual for the correct refilling procedure.

Draining transmission fluid instead of motor oil is not an uncommon mistake among vehicle owners. For Subaru owners who find themselves in this situation, it’s important to act swiftly to avoid any potential damage to the vehicle’s transmission system.

Understanding the distinction between the various fluids in your car can save you from expensive repairs down the line.

Keeping your Subaru’s transmission healthy is critical for the smooth operation of your vehicle, as the transmission fluid lubricates and cools the moving parts within the transmission.

Taking immediate steps to address an accidental fluid drain can ensure your Subaru continues to run efficiently and reliably. Always handle automotive fluids with care and be sure to dispose of old fluids properly to protect the environment.

Understanding The Mistake

Accidentally draining transmission fluid instead of oil in your Subaru can lead to a few raised eyebrows and an immediate concern for your vehicle’s health.

Identifying the cause of such a slip-up is key to preventing future errors and understanding why such mistakes can have significant consequences for your vehicle’s performance.

Difference Between Transmission Fluid And Engine Oil

Knowing the distinction between transmission fluid and engine oil is crucial. Transmission fluid is a slick liquid tasked with lubricating the moving parts inside your vehicle’s transmission. On the contrary, engine oil is designed to reduce friction within your car’s engine.

Here’s a quick comparison:

Fluid Type Transmission Fluid Engine Oil
Color Usually red or green Amber to black
Location Found in transmission Found in engine
Lubricates Lubricates gearbox components Lubricates engine components

Distinguishing these fluids by color, location, and function helps prevent maintenance mistakes.

Consequences Of Draining Transmission Fluid Instead Of Oil

  • Immediate attention required to prevent damage
  • Lack of proper lubrication can cause transmission failure
  • Costly repairs if the vehicle is driven without fluid

Draining the wrong fluid from your Subaru can lead to irreversible damage. Transmission components may grind against each other without adequate lubrication, resulting in heightened wear and potential failure. It’s essential to cease driving and resolve the issue promptly to avoid high repair costs.

Immediate Actions To Take

When you realize that you’ve accidentally drained the transmission fluid from your Subaru instead of the engine oil, it’s critical to act swiftly. Transmission fluid plays a crucial role in keeping your vehicle’s transmission cool and lubricated.

Without it, your transmission could suffer severe damage. Here are the immediate actions you should take to mitigate any potential harm to your vehicle.

Stop The Draining Process

Immediately cease the draining activity as soon as you notice the mistake. If the drain plug is still removed, quickly reinsert it to prevent further loss of transmission fluid. This can help minimize the amount of fluid lost and protect your transmission from excessive damage.

Refill With Engine Oil

Once you’ve stopped draining the transmission fluid, the next step is to ensure that your engine oil is at the proper level. If you originally set out to change your engine oil, replace the oil filter if necessary and refill the engine with the correct type and amount of oil as per your Subaru’s specifications.

Do not start your vehicle until you have confirmed that the engine oil level is correct. Starting the engine with insufficient oil can cause severe engine damage.

Check For Any Damage

After the error has been rectified, it’s essential to check for potential transmission damage. Observe for any signs of abnormal functioning, such as slipping, rough shifting, or unusual noises when operating the vehicle.

Consult a professional mechanic as soon as possible to inspect your transmission system thoroughly. They can determine if the accidental draining has caused any damage and suggest the appropriate repairs or maintenance.

It’s imperative to address issues from accidental fluid drainage early on to prevent long-term damage and costly repairs. Regular maintenance and attentive care are key in ensuring your Subaru continues to operate smoothly. Keep this mishap as a reminder to double-check your work during routine car maintenance.

Long-term Implications And Next Steps

When it comes to maintaining a vehicle, mistakes happen, but few are as concerning as accidentally draining the transmission fluid instead of the oil.

Particularly for Subaru owners, understanding the long-term implications and next steps is critical to preventing lasting damage. Act swiftly and thoughtfully to mitigate any potential harm to your vehicle’s transmission system.

Potential Damage To The Transmission

Draining the transmission fluid from your Subaru can lead to several issues, as the transmission relies on this fluid for lubrication, cooling, and hydraulic pressure. Without it, the internal components can suffer from:

  • Increased friction: Leading to excessive wear and overheating.
  • Lack of hydraulic pressure: Resulting in an inability to engage gears.
  • Contaminant buildup: Without the fluid to clear them away, debris can accumulate, affecting functionality.

Note: The severity of damage depends on how long the vehicle was operated without the transmission fluid.

Seek Professional Help

Immediate action is imperative in this situation. Consult with a certified automotive technician who specializes in Subarus to assess any harm inflicted on the transmission. They will:

  1. Determine the extent of the damage.
  2. Replenish the transmission fluid with the appropriate type and quantity.
  3. Perform thorough diagnostic tests to ensure all systems are functioning properly.

Getting professional help safeguards against compounded issues and ensures reliable repair work is carried out.

Learn From The Experience And Be Mindful In The Future

Mistakes are often our greatest teachers. To prevent repeating this error, practice the following:

Maintenance Do’s and Don’ts
Do Don’t
Mark your fluids reservoirs clearly. Rush through vehicle maintenance tasks.
Double-check manuals for proper procedures. Ignore unfamiliar vehicle sounds or behaviors after maintenance.
Keep a maintenance log to track services and fluid levels. Assume a quick glance at the engine bay is sufficient.

Commit to diligent vehicle care and enhance your automotive maintenance knowledge. Doing so will help safeguard your Subaru’s transmission—and your peace of mind—for the long haul.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Happens If I Accidentally Put Transmission Fluid In My Engine Oil?

Putting transmission fluid in your engine oil can cause damage. Immediately drain the fluid and change your engine oil and filter to prevent potential engine harm.

What Happens If You Accidentally Drained Transmission Fluid?

Draining transmission fluid by accident can lead to significant damage to transmission components due to lack of lubrication. Immediate refilling is crucial to prevent wear or failure in the system. Drive the vehicle only after addressing the issue to avoid costly repairs.

What Do I Do If I Put Transmission Fluid In The Oil?

Stop your vehicle and turn off the engine. Drain the oil and remove the contaminated filter. Replace with fresh oil and a new filter before starting the engine.

Is It Bad To Drain Your Transmission Fluid?

Draining transmission fluid is not inherently bad; it’s a necessary step during a routine fluid change to maintain optimal vehicle performance.

However, doing it incorrectly can cause damage. Always follow your vehicle’s maintenance guidelines for proper transmission fluid management.


Mistakes happen, even with something as crucial as your Subaru’s fluids. Draining transmission fluid instead of oil can be alarming, but it’s not the end of the road.

Remember, proper maintenance is key to vehicle longevity stay informed and drive confidently.