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3rd & 4th Generation (19921996 & 19972001) Toyota Camry Discussion for years: 1992-1996 & 1997-2001 Topics of discussion range from fuel economy, safety, modifications, performance all involving America's favorite family car, the Toyota Camry.

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Old 07-27-2007, 01:11 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Transmission fluid level check

Am i supposed to check the dipstick while the engine is running or not? I checked while the engine wa hot and running, and the dipstick showed that i didn't have enough fluid. It was in the cold level. When i turned the engine off, I waited about 30 seconds and checked again, and this time the level was right at the hot level. Am i short or am i right on?
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Old 07-27-2007, 01:19 PM   #2 (permalink)
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you can do it either way

there are 2 places to check on the dipstick ... 4 markings ... two for hot and two for cold


if the engine is hot, then the fluid should be inbetween the 2 HOT markings ... and vice versa
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Old 07-27-2007, 03:05 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Thats not really the problem tho, thanks anyway. I just let my car cool down for about an hour, and now the dipstick shows that i overfilled it. Its an inch of the hot marking. When the engine was run for 30 minutes this morning, I immediately checked it and it was just under the hot marking. Why would the level rise after i let the engine cool down?
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Old 07-27-2007, 03:20 PM   #4 (permalink)
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.... let the engine run for 30 mins [dont turn it off] and check it - let us know what the level is

.... let the engine cool for 1.5 hrs [dont turn it on] and check it - let us know what the level is


oil and fluids settle when the car is shut off, which can raise or lower the levels [usually raise for engine oil, and lower for tranny fluid] ... if you dont wait enough time your readings will be inconsistent so do as i said above and give us an accurate reading
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Old 07-27-2007, 05:08 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Check the transmission fluid while the engine is running. Let it run (it's best to actually drive it) for about 20-30 minutes and then check it while it's running. Park the car on level ground and go through each gear selection on the shifter while counting to 2 each time. Start in Park and go down to low and then return it to park going through each gear again. Then go out and check the fluid level. Use the hot marks on the dipstick. Fill as required to bring it between the 2 hot lines. Personally, I like to keep mine as near the full mark as possible, without going over the full mark. I believe the more fluid you have in there without going over the full mark, the better it can dissipate the heat. IMHO.

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Old 07-27-2007, 10:35 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Are you absolutely sure its supposed to be checked while running? I did what venom said and a drove it for 30 minutes. I checked it while the engine was running and it was at the high cold mark. Then i turned the engine off and immediately checked again, and it was right at the low hot level. When I left it for 1.5 hours, it was a little then an inch above the hot level. I thought fluid level was supposed to go down when it cooled down.
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Old 07-27-2007, 10:44 PM   #7 (permalink)
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i've been discussing this for a while. alls i've concluded about our 3 toyotas is that no matter when i check it (provided its a level surface), they're all filled up to the hot level. never more, never less.

And if i follow my haynes manual while i do a drain and fill just to the cold line, it'll never go past the cold line or drop below the cold area no matter under what conditions i check it.

didnt understand how transmission fluid could expand or contract that much.

FYI from the factory and from repair shops after drain and fill/flush the transmission fluid seems to sit about 1/2 inch above the hot mark. I suppose thats how its supposed to be.
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Old 07-27-2007, 10:50 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Thanks for the input. I guess ill just leave it alone then. Everything was ok until i installed my transmission cooler. That thing is messing with me.
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Old 07-27-2007, 10:58 PM   #9 (permalink)
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oh trans cooler, that kind of makes more sense of ur first post. the rule of thumb is to keep the fluid between the hot and cold areas. never above or below them and you'll be just fine!

underfilling is just as bad as overfilling. so check ur fluids on a level surface after various conditions and just make sure its never above the hot mark.
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Old 07-27-2007, 11:07 PM   #10 (permalink)
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well mine works fine ... when its hot, its in the hot region

when its cold, its in the cold region
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Old 07-28-2007, 01:31 AM   #11 (permalink)
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I've always checked my trans fliud level while the engine is running. If you think about it, with the engine running, the trans fluid pump is circulating the fliud keeping eveything lubricated. It's when the engine is running that you get the most accurate reading. When you let the car sit for a while, all of its fluids drain back to the lowest point possible. So, when you check the trans fluid level when it's cold the fluid has drained back and raised the level. Thats why the level goes over the "full hot" mark. So, then always check your trans fluid with the engine running. It's the motor oil that you check with the engine off.
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Old 07-28-2007, 03:08 PM   #12 (permalink)
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"Are you absolutely sure its supposed to be checked while running?"

Yes, I am absolutely sure. You can check in your owner's manual and it will give you the procedure. You can also check in the generation 3 or generation 4 service manuals (you don't say what year Camry you have) stickied here at the top of the General Camry Discussion forum page. Look at section "MA' for maintenance.

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