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ADF cvt transmission pan interview

This new product from Anderson Design & Fabrication could be the key to making Subaru CVT transmissions more reliable

By Ben Boxer

I see a lot of questions and concerns about CVT failure in Subarus. Recently, ADF developed an aftermarket aluminum CVT pan to help keep these transmissions cooler and more reliable. I wanted to get a bit more info on the details surrounding the R&D for the new pan. So I reached out to ADF for their thoughts.

In this exclusive interview with Patrick Anderson, the owner of Anderson Design & Fabrication, we look into the innovative engineering behind their latest creation: the CVT Billet Transmission Pan. With years of experience in the offroad Subaru industry, he sheds light on the inspiration driving the development of this pan.

Pat also provides insights into why this USA-made pan stands out as a game-changer for Subaru enthusiasts and drivers seeking improved performance and longevity for their vehicles.

Table of Contents

ADF billet aluminum cvt pan cooling fins
adf cvt transmission pan for subaru

A Need For Cooling: The Main Reason Development Began

I figured we could make these transmissions less problematic

“The Subaru CVT transmission has had a bad rap over the years, with overheating being one of the major issues. By increasing the fluid capacity and enhancing cooling with an aluminum pan, I figured we could make these transmissions less problematic.”

ADF lifted-subaru-outback-wilderness-with-roof-rack

(ADF is one of the leading manufacturers of offroad parts and lift kits for Subarus. This is their Subaru Outback Wilderness Edition that has an additional 4 inches of lift.)

Creating An Efficient Heat Dissipating Design

“The added cooling fins and 6061 material make it an excellent heat displacer, allowing for additional cooling. We are still analyzing temperature data across different seasons, but the initial results are promising.”

ADF cvt pan with magnetic drain plug

Unlike Any Other CVT Pan Available

We expect the pan to outlast the life of the car

cvt transmission pan stock

(Notice the shallow construction of the stamped steel factory pan)

From what we have seen, apart from the factory stamped steel plate, this is the only other CVT pan on the market. The size and thickness of our pans practically eliminate the need for a transmission skid plate. 

The base thickness of the pan is 0.3″, plus the 1/4″ fins. We expect the pan to outlast the life of the car due to its construction.”

The Manufacturing Process: What Is Billet?

We opted for billet machining due to the quality, strength, and consistency

In manufacturing, there is a term called “Billet,” where a solid object of material is machined into a finished product. These pans are machined from a solid chunk of 6061 aluminum.

Most aftermarket pans, outside of the Subaru market, are manufactured using a casting method. While casting is cheaper, we opted for billet machining due to the quality, strength, and consistency we can maintain. Our pans are made in the USA to support American companies, despite the higher costs.

Billet aluminum refers to solid aluminum material that’s machined into the desired shape. Its strength, durability, and precision make it a preferred choice in the aftermarket industry for high-performance applications.”

The Only Custom-made Silicone CVT Pan Gasket Available For Subaru: Easy Installation

adf silicone cvt pan gasket

Eliminates the headache of trying to get a good consistent bead with messy RTV sealant.

“The standard RTV gasket that people are currently using needs to be applied from a tube, which can be messy during installation and cleanup. Our custom silicone gasket eliminates the headache of trying to get a good consistent bead with messy RTV sealant.

While single-use is ideal, we’ve found that our silicone gasket can be reused in some cases, making installation easier and cleaner.”

Where Is The ADF CVT Pan Produced?

The pan is manufactured right here in Estacada by a local company we’ve been working with for a couple of years. It’s 100% made in the USA.”

Note: I have seen this pan in person during the development process and it’s a very well made part.

Potential Warranty Issues With The Aftermarket CVT Pan

I don’t foresee any major issues, although some technicians might raise concerns. However, if the pan experiences enough damage to break, there are likely bigger transmission problems at hand.”

Who Would Benefit From Installing This?

“This CVT pan is suitable for all applications; from street driving to off-road and racing. Improved cooling and additional fluid capacity benefit any driving scenario.”

ADF cvt pan made out of billet aluminum for subaru outback
lifted modified subaru forester carrying christmas tree
lifted subaru outback with toyo all terrain tires

Temp Reduction And Added Fluid Capacity

Currently testing it and seeing temps an average of 20 degrees lower

ADF cvt pan made out of billet aluminum

We’re currently logging data on temperature. However, it can vary based on weather conditions. We’ll have more data as we continue testing through different seasons. But we have one customer (@silverbulletxv on Instagram) currently testing it and seeing temps an average of 20 degrees lower than without the billet pan.

We don’t have an exact number regarding how much added capacity is created due to the chaotic service process. But our pan is over double the thickness of the factory pan, resulting in a significant increase in capacity.”

How Hard Is The Install Process?

Installation is straightforward, with the filling of the fluid being the trickiest part due to a specific filling order to ensure proper fluid level. It’s a job that the average person could perform with basic tools in roughly 30 minutes when using the ADF silicone gasket.”

Do You Still Need To Run A Transmission Skid Plate With This Pan?

“As previously mentioned, the thickness of these pans eliminates the need for a transmission skid plate. If this pan gets damaged, there are likely larger issues to address. We’re also working on models for newer Subarus, including turbo models and those from 2022 onwards.”

I want to give a huge shout out to Patrick for taking time to talk with me about their latest products. He’s always helpful any time I have questions and I’ve been using parts from ADF for almost 10 years.

You can find lift kits and offroad parts for your Subaru at the ADF website:

The billet CVT pan is currently available for preorder at a discounted rate and you can apply here to save yours: CVT Billet Pan Preorder

patrick anderson from ADF