What kind of automatic transmission fluid (ATF) should I use in my SUBARU?

January 26, 2012. Author:

Selecting an automatic transmission fluid (ATF) for a SUBARU (or any other automatic transmission) is relatively easy...if you follow the right process!


First, check your SUBARU owner's manual to see fluid type is specified.

Up to around model year 2005, SUBARU automatic transmissions used Dexron II/III/IIIE

Generally for Subaru's with the 4EAT (4-speed Electronically controlled Automatic Transmission) up to around model year 2005, Dexron II/IIE or III was specified.  However, some time back GM stopped renewing licenses to oil blenders for that era Dexron.  So the ATF you buy might not specifically list Dexron II/IIE or III on the front of the bottle, but may say something on the back about 'also for applications formerly calling for Dexron III'.  AMSOIL offers two synthetic ATF's recommended for this application, a synthetic ATF and a fuel efficient synthetic ATF.  Mobil, Redline and many other ATF blenders have similar multi-vehicle ATF products available.

Can I use Dexron VI in my Subaru Transmission?

Like many automotive lubricants, Dexron VI claims to be backwards compatible with the older Dexron

Synthetic ATF recommended for SUBARU ATF and SUBARU ATF-HP applications

III and similar fluids. However, it does not necessarily follow that it is the best product for those applications.

A major push in automotive lubricants is efficiency. However, the lubricant must still protect against excessive wear. Dexron VI tends to be thinner than the older Dexron specifications. The lower viscosity may help reduce pumping and other losses for the transmission. An example of a Dexron VI compatible fluid is Amsoil ATL.

Starting around model year 2005, SUBARU automatic transmissions started to specify Subaru-Idemitsu ATF-HP

Fuel efficient synthetic ATF

Subaru's from around 2005 on up, especially those with the 5EAT may call for Subaru-Idemitsu HP ATF.  There have been reports of shudder and strange shifting patterns especially in the 5EAT's when the wrong ATF type is used.  (Generally the odd shifting is caused by different dynamic frictional characteristics; especially if the fluid used has less friction modification than the specified fluid.  This fact can make the clutch friction materials in the transmission 'grabby' and cause other issues).

The part number of SUBARU ATF-HP by Idemitsu is SOA868V9241.  It is also available in a case of twelve U.S. quarts with part number SOA635040.

AMSOIL offers a synthetic automatic transmission fluid recommended for SUBARU ATF and SUBARU ATF-HP applications.

These automatic transmission fluids contain anti-wear/extreme-pressure agents to (extend gear life). They have durable friction modifiers to help prevent shudder during shifting. Anti-oxidants extend the fluid life. Seal conditioners reduce fluid leaks. Detergents and dispersants keep the transmission clean clean and control deposits. Corrosion inhibitors control rust on the transmission internal parts. Click here to read more.

You can check exactly what lubricants your particular year and model Subaru requires in the application guide. Or you can download the catalog.

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This article was written by . It was last updated January 26, 2012 and first published November 12, 2010. If you have questions about the article, please click here to view the author's contact information including e-mail address, telephone number and mailing address.

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