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Subaru AT Oil Temp Light

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

This past Thanksgiving we drove from Rochester to my parents' place in Jersey. Usually we take Rachelle's Accord since it was more quiet and comfortable than my Cherokee. Since the Cherokee was replaced with a newer Subaru Outback, we took that car instead. We can fit more stuff in the Subaru and can get stuff (toys) in the back from the back seat; you can't do that easily with a sedan.

This was the first long trip I've personally taken with the car and I was a bit nervous since I didn't know what to expect. My dad drove the car up here from Jersey with no problems and I've driven it a few thousand miles around town already so I was pretty confident but still hoping there wouldn't be any problems.

Subaru AT oil temp light

We left at Claire's nap time so we could get as far as possible while she slept. We made it about half way, almost to Binghamton, before stopping for lunch. When we got back on the road after about 10 miles the "AT Oil Temp" light started flashing. This light is supposed to tell you there is a problem with the temperature of the automatic transmission fluid. So after I got over my initial heart attack I started looking in the owner's and service manuals to see exactly what was going on. This light was only mentioned in the owner's manual and it only said if it comes on while driving it isn't necessary to stop, but that we shouldn't drive up any steep hills. We were on I-81 at this point which is nothing but hills. Searching around online on our phones I found out this flashing light is pretty common and nobody seems to know what causes it. There are tons of questions asked about it but almost no answers. We stopped at a rest area as soon as we could and I checked the fluid level in the transmission. It was slightly low, but had plenty of juice. We turned off the car and started it again and the light stayed off. I figured it was some weird occurence that triggered a fault in the transmission control module.

On the way back home to Rochester the same thing happened! It was fine for the first 150 miles or so and after we stopped for lunch the light started flashing again. I had to stop for gas about 40 miles from home and when I started the car back up the light stayed off. I don't really understand what was going on with this, but at least it didn't seem to be affecting anything; the car still drove and shifted fine while it was flashing. While I was in Jersey my dad (mostly) and I changed the automatic transmission fluid; it had lost some of its color but didn't smell burned, so it was the right time to do it. I was hoping that would have fixed my light issue, but apparently not.

Comments (2) Subscribe

#1 - Oct 27, 2015 at 10:48 AM
Hi Joe,
Came across your post while researching this very frustrating A/T oil temp issue. I've got a 2003 outback exhibiting the same problem as yours: light blinks at random times even after spending nearly a grand at the dealer to "fix" the problem. New battery, full fluid flush, diagnostic...all at Subaru dealer and apparently all for naught. Wondering if you ever got a definitive diagnosis?
Thanks in advance!
#2 - Jan 1, 2016 at 6:36 PM
Hey Alison,
My apologies for taking so long to get back to you, I didn't see this comment and my website is supposed to email me on comments but isn't...

I fixed all my strange Subaru problems! I traded the car in and bought a Honda Pilot. Between stuff like this and the head gasket problems that they STILL haven't fixed after more than 15 years, I lost all faith in Subaru. The car wasn't worth all the problems I had with it, and I only had mine for a few years.

Sorry I don't have better news for you. I would advise you to stop throwing money at that car and just trade it in for something else.

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