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Iron filings in Auto Transmission Fluid - normal?

kevdookkevdook Posts: 4
edited June 2014 in Subaru
I recently experienced that the gears shifted down automatically in my 2.5 Subaru Outback (automatic transmision) - this happened briefly on 3 occassions when the engine was not yet warm but thereafter the problem seemed to go away. I asked the agent to check the issue and his report back to me was to say that the presence of minute iron filings in the gearbox fluid which became apparent on draining the box indicates that the gearbox is badly damaged, that the iron filings cause the gearing down and other such problems and that the cost to repair or replace is an exorbitat figure. He suggests that we take out the gearbox and they will then be able to assess what the extent of the damage is.
Please advise on whether the presence of iron filings is in fact "terminal" and a major problem - I would guess that there would not be enough filings to melt into an object the size of a paper clip. HELP!


  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    I'd have to agree with the mechanic. You could roll the dice and keep driving it, but it will only get worse, and the failure may require a replacement trans instead of a rebuild.
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 13,097
    Yeah; it is hard to say. At this point, I think a transmission flush is in order, followed by careful observation. If the performance of the transmission does not improve afterward, drain the fluid again after another thousand miles or so. If there are any metal shavings in there, it is definitely terminal.

    Have you owned this vehicle since new? Has the transmission been serviced (fluid drained or flushed) before? If not, how many miles on it? If so, how many miles since the last service?
    2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2008 and 2013 Subaru Forester(s), 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup
  • easypareasypar ColoradoPosts: 191
    Well in my long life I've always gone by the "how much is too much" rule on metal bits in the tranny fluid. I think "some" little bit is considered normal. Big chunks, whether steel or aluminum spells trouble.

    If this work was done at a "transmission specialist" type of shop I'd be wary of the diagnosis, the industry doesn't have a reputation as straight shooters! OTOH, if you've been experiencing a lot of tranny troubles you may be right.

    I've often been as concerned about burnt/darkened fluid as about little bits of metal.

    Has the tranny been serviced as called for insofar as changing fluid and filter?

  • Thanks for the prompt response. The only difficulty I have is that a rebuild has been quoted at between P20 000 and P50 000 - whereas a second hand replacement has been quoted at approximately P10 000!
  • We have just performed a transmission flush. Will take you advice about careful observation and a redrain.
    I bought the vehicle second hand in great condition with 40 000 km on clock - it now has approx 60 000 km and has not given a days trouble - in fact the car is going like a steam train (other than the 3 brief occassions outlined in my post).
    I am not aware of the transmission fluuid being dranined before but doubt it due to the low mileage.
    60 000 kms on car.
    20 000 kms since last full service although I had a minor service about 10 000 kms ago.
    Thanks again for the response.
  • Thanks for the response easypar - to the best of my knowledge this is the first time the tranny has been serviced - car only has about 60 000 kms on it and is in very good condition.

    Is there any chance that the initial problem of gearing down may be an electronic issue and have nothing to do with the iron filings in the fluid?
This discussion has been closed.