How to Pick the Right 1998 Subaru Forester Rear Differential Fluid

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Kara Vanderbeek
Updated on Jun 16, 2022 · 3 min read
To replace the rear differential fluid of a 1998
Subaru Forester
, ensure you’re prepared to replace the fluid, then buy a non-synthetic 80W-90 GL-5 gear oil that meets the manufacturer’s requirements.
With all of the necessary maintenance you do for your
, swapping out your rear differential fluid can take the back seat on your list of priorities. However, neglecting to replace your fluid can result in a host of maintenance issues, so it’s important to know when to get your fluid changed.  
Not sure how to replace your 1998 Subaru Forester rear differential fluid?
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The best 1998 Subaru Forester rear differential fluid

If you’re in search of the optimal rear differential fluid for a 1998 Subaru Forester, look no further than Subaru’s very own High Performance Gear Oil SAE 75W 90. You can
buy it online here
If you’re unable to purchase Subaru’s Genuine Certified Gear Oil, you can opt for any non-synthetic gear lubricant. However, you’ll need to ensure the lubricant of your choice meets the requirements of your vehicle. 
Look for an oil listed as “80W-90” viscosity and level “GL-5” of sulfur-based additives in the oil. Here are some options: 

What is rear differential fluid—and why does your Subaru need it?

What does rear differential fluid do for your Subaru, exactly?
Rear differential fluid lubricates the clutches, gears, and bearings in the rear end of your vehicle so that the differential can equally distribute power to all the wheels, allowing you to maintain control. 
Without this fluid, the differential components would overheat from metal-on-metal contact. 

How often to change 1998 Subaru Forester rear differential fluid

Differential fluid is often overlooked as a necessary aspect of vehicle maintenance, and your owner’s manual may not even have a scheduled interval for replacing the fluid. However, if your vehicle has any of the following issues, it may be time for a fluid replacement:
  • Unusual vibrations and noises (whirring, howling, straining)
  • A burning smell
  • Metal particles in the gear oil
As a general rule of thumb, you should have your rear differential fluid replaced every 30,000 to 50,000 miles, but you can have a mechanic check the differential oil during regular maintenance services. 

How to change your Subaru’s differential fluid

Here are the steps to a rear differential fluid replacement. 
Step 1: Start by securing your Subaru on jack stands or ramps for easy access to the rear differential. Locate the differential drain bolt. 
Step 2: Loosen the bolt and remove it.
Step 3: Allow the gear oil to drain completely into a pan before replacing the drain bolt. Be sure to wipe any excess gear oil from the case. 
Step 4: Remove the gear oil fill bolt.
Step 5: Slowly add the recommended amount of gear oil to the differential using a pump. 
Step 6: Reinstall the fill hole bolt and wipe off any excess oil.

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