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So I was watching random 2015-2019 videos and ran across a few claiming that there's a dipstick for checking front diff oil, and a few others saying it's a dipstick for transmission oil (manual transmission).

Poking about, sure enough there's a grey dipstick on top of the transmission/front diff housing below the intercooler surrounded by wiring harnesses. So I did the obvious thing and peeked at it so I have an idea where it's at for future (car only has 2,300 miles now)...BUT it looks low (see pic, it's at the back of the "L"). Seems about the same whether warm (10 min drive) or cold (sitting 40F temp overnight) with the engine shut off.

Now I'm sitting here and the manual says "there is no need to check" for the transmission and differential oil, when I got the car and asked the dealership told me there's nothing for me to check on those. But I'm also now concerned seeing there's SOMETHING with a dipstick in that area that does look low to me, and it's apparently a thing dealers don't seem to want to acknowledge exists to check. I know my Outback has 2 dipsticks for ATF and front-diff oil, but the manual makes reference to them so I can at least know what I am looking at.

This is a 2020 Subaru WRX (non-STI) Premium, couple months old at ~2,300 miles.

Can someone help me figure out what this (pictured) is and if it's something to be concerned about?
 

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So I was watching random 2015-2019 videos and ran across a few claiming that there's a dipstick for checking front diff oil, and a few others saying it's a dipstick for transmission oil (manual transmission).
They are all simultaneously correct :)

The transmission, front AND center differentials all share the same oil bath.

The fluid can get low, but that level is not concerning. Are you checking with the fluid warm? If so, have the dealership top it off.

The change interval for transmission oil is 30,000 miles IIRC. A number of prominent people suggest to short change the first interval due to frequent factory oil contamination (or so they claim).
 

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Discussion Starter #4
They are all simultaneously correct :)

The transmission, front AND center differentials all share the same oil bath.

The fluid can get low, but that level is not concerning. Are you checking with the fluid warm? If so, have the dealership top it off.

The change interval for transmission oil is 30,000 miles IIRC. A number of prominent people suggest to short change the first interval due to frequent factory oil contamination (or so they claim).
Good to know it's all the same in this. I'm used to separate gear oil and auto-transmission fluid.

Yes, warm/cool didn't seem to make a significant difference in the level (~20 mile round-trip at highway speed).
So they "consume" gear oil? That seems odd.

I'll see if I can either get the dealer to top it off (hopefully they'll listen since they say there's nothing to check) or find the right kind of oil to top it off myself.
 

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Good to know it's all the same in this. I'm used to separate gear oil and auto-transmission fluid.

Yes, warm/cool didn't seem to make a significant difference in the level (~20 mile round-trip at highway speed).
So they "consume" gear oil? That seems odd.

I'll see if I can either get the dealer to top it off (hopefully they'll listen since they say there's nothing to check) or find the right kind of oil to top it off myself.
Not so much consume. Tiny leaks can lead to low fluid over many miles. At 3000 miles, my guess is that it was never full.

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Ended up just buying a bottle of the appropriate suggested weight gear oil and topping it off myself. Dealer said that I shouldn't need to check anything for the transmission and they shouldn't until the recommended service interval, they wanted me to leave it for a few days of diagnostics along with the symptoms to "find any problems"...seems unreasonable for something that (I agree) was likely just not quite full from the start. If it drops again, fine...but I don't expect it to.

After ~12 oz (painfully dribbled in about 0.5-1oz at a time, checking between) it brought the level up about half way between the F and L marks, I won't add any more for fear of overfilling but at least it looks to be within the marked lines now, both warm and cold (nothing seems to specify which it should be checked but it doesn't seem to vary significantly)
 

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That's frustrating, I'm sorry to hear it.

Regardless of whether you "need to check" before the service interval, the fact remains that the fluid was low. This dealership seems negligent. Any chance to go to another?
 

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Discussion Starter #8 (Edited)
That's frustrating, I'm sorry to hear it.

Regardless of whether you "need to check" before the service interval, the fact remains that the fluid was low. This dealership seems negligent. Any chance to go to another?
Not easily, no...others are ~2.5 hour drive or more away, not easy to get to without a full day of work, and I wouldn't be surprised if they tell me the same thing. The one I got it from ~2.5 hours away told me it's all sealed when I specifically asked how to check it as they were going over all the maintenance requirements during the delivery process.

Since I was able to get to it to top off myself I guess that's the end of it unless it actually drops again.

My first choice for service is a trusted tire shop we've been going to for years. If they feel its something they can't do a good job, they have recommended me someplace else or to the dealer (which has happened). They've even occationally helped me check rear diff oil on their lift at no charge when I was concerned about my other car. It's hard finding an honest shop these days it seems. Obviously tho warrenty repairs would have to go to the dealer, nomater how frustrating the experience is.

It's the same reason we have our own jug of Subaru Super-Blue Coolant, while the dealer could top up 1/4 cup (or whatever stupid small amount seems to vanish every year or so) while under warranty, the amount of effort required makes it cheaper time-wise to just buy a jug and keep it at home. I don't know why I thought gear oil would be a better experience.
 
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