Should You Change Your Transmisssion Fluid on Your Gen 5 or Gen 6 Camry? - Toyota Nation Forum : Toyota Car and Truck Forums
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post #1 of 55 Old 02-28-2010, 07:41 PM Thread Starter
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Gen5 Should You Change Your Transmisssion Fluid on Your Gen 5 or Gen 6 Camry?

2003 Camry I4 2.4L Auto Trans
100K Miles

Problem: Moderate "clunk" when I shift from Reverse to Drive. After braking around a corner the transmission seems to miss-shift a bit. There's a lag from when I press the gas to when the gear is engaged. This causes a slight "clunk" while driving.

A mechanic told me that my tranny fluid was much darker than it should be. He recommended a flush/fill and filter replacement.

QUESTION: I haven't flushed the tranny fluid since I bought it in 2005 at 32K miles. Should I mess with the fluid or leave it alone? If I mess with it will it just dislodge the crap and make everything worse?

Thanks in advance.
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post #2 of 55 Old 02-28-2010, 07:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mconfes View Post
2003 Camry I4 2.4L Auto Trans
100K Miles

Problem: Moderate "clunk" when I shift from Reverse to Drive. After braking around a corner the transmission seems to miss-shift a bit. There's a lag from when I press the gas to when the gear is engaged. This causes a slight "clunk" while driving.

A mechanic told me that my tranny fluid was much darker than it should be. He recommended a flush/fill and filter replacement.

QUESTION: I haven't flushed the tranny fluid since I bought it in 2005 at 32K miles. Should I mess with the fluid or leave it alone? If I mess with it will it just dislodge the crap and make everything worse?

Thanks in advance.
I don't know what the service interval is look in the manual. I would say though, if it is developing problems, not doing anything isn't going to lessen the progression. I would get it flushed and filled myself, I do on all my vehicles every 30-40k. They have filtering machines, that shouldn't allow the crap to get in and screw it up any more.
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post #3 of 55 Old 02-28-2010, 07:55 PM
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Originally Posted by heartdisease View Post
I don't know what the service interval is look in the manual. I would say though, if it is developing problems, not doing anything isn't going to lessen the progression. I would get it flushed and filled myself, I do on all my vehicles every 30-40k. They have filtering machines, that shouldn't allow the crap to get in and screw it up any more.
There is no service interval. Toyota says the fluid is "Lifetime". Yeah I believe that.

Don't get a flush that can be risky.

Do a drain and fill once a year with a new filter.
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post #4 of 55 Old 02-28-2010, 08:39 PM
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With that mileage it has to have some gunk in there and the likelihood is high that the detergents in the old atf are beat. With the I4 it is easy to get to the hoses that run to the cooler. disconnect the outflow hose from the cooler and catch the flow with a pan as you start the engine and allow it to run the few seconds it takes to pump the fluid out. It won't be dry but you can get a few quarts out this way. By replacing only a portion you are reintroducing some cleaning ability without totally shocking the system. Pulling and cleaning the pan and a new filter are also helpful, but I don't think I would 'flush' the system right now. See if you can't get the valves freed up so that it will shift properly.

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post #5 of 55 Old 03-01-2010, 12:00 AM
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there's a service interval for transmission fluid, but i forgot what it was. i'll check it in the handbook and report later this week if no one comes up with the "official" interval by then.
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post #6 of 55 Old 03-01-2010, 01:14 AM
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How's the fluid level?

04 Camry I4 has the Aisin U241E transmission. It's POS. Well, IMO all U-series are junk.

The main problem with U241E is a defect with fluid circuit design that at times can cause two gears to be engaged at the same time. There is no software fix for this. You just have to kinda "get used to it" if this is the cause for the clunk. There are other causes, including wear in the inner CV joint on acceleration.

But in general you should drop the pan and change the filter every 15-30K miles depending on severe-normal driving. Consider using Castrol Import Multi-Vehicle ATF, Valvoline MaxLife, or Walmart SuperTech Mercon-V that's suitable for Toyota T-IV (T-IV = dino Mobil-3309) or Mobil-1 ATF (new formulation suitable for T-IV, not the old formulation). (Basically read the label carefully. And remember cleanliness and fluid level accuracy are important.)

Usually varnish falling off and plugging stuff is reserved for 100K+ miles of neglected transmissions. I think Toyota think it's OK to leave it in there for the lifetime but later changeed to 60K miles for normal driving. HA HA HA 60K miles what a joke. Unless you're on a 3-year lease then it's fine, who cares right?

Edit: However, with the miles I would consider using Valvoline MaxLife ATF. There's no guarantee, but in general when you suspect transmission problems checking fluid condition and level is the first thing, and then just change it out with new fluid and filter, wipe the metal sludge off the bottom of the pan. Consider another filter change in 15K miles.

See if this will improve things. However, if the clutch packs are worn out from the blocked filter, then maybe MaxLife will help give you a little more time.


ATF kit, ~$20 + shipping on rockauto:
http://www.rockauto.com/catalog/moreinfo.php?pk=539553



Quote:
Originally Posted by mconfes View Post
2003 Camry I4 2.4L Auto Trans
100K Miles

Problem: Moderate "clunk" when I shift from Reverse to Drive. After braking around a corner the transmission seems to miss-shift a bit. There's a lag from when I press the gas to when the gear is engaged. This causes a slight "clunk" while driving.

A mechanic told me that my tranny fluid was much darker than it should be. He recommended a flush/fill and filter replacement.

QUESTION: I haven't flushed the tranny fluid since I bought it in 2005 at 32K miles. Should I mess with the fluid or leave it alone? If I mess with it will it just dislodge the crap and make everything worse?

Thanks in advance.

Last edited by JohnGD; 03-01-2010 at 01:24 AM.
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post #7 of 55 Old 03-02-2010, 04:33 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the replies everyone. I talked to Toyota and a tranny shop and both said that doing a drain/fill, screen/filter change wouldn't make things worse. Everyone is saying no the flush so that's out.

So, is this a pretty easy job? I saw the ATF kit for $20 and i looks easy enough. Toyota said to just use whatever OEM fluid it requires. The shop is quoting $140-180 to drop the pan/filter.

I have basic tools and would have to do it in my driveway. Is it as easy as it sounds? Do I have to buff the pan edges or anything like that? Are there any computer settings that can affect the smoothness of shifting, etc?

What do you guys think?
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post #8 of 55 Old 03-02-2010, 09:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mconfes View Post
Thanks for the replies everyone. I talked to Toyota and a tranny shop and both said that doing a drain/fill, screen/filter change wouldn't make things worse. Everyone is saying no the flush so that's out.

So, is this a pretty easy job? I saw the ATF kit for $20 and i looks easy enough. Toyota said to just use whatever OEM fluid it requires. The shop is quoting $140-180 to drop the pan/filter.

I have basic tools and would have to do it in my driveway. Is it as easy as it sounds? Do I have to buff the pan edges or anything like that? Are there any computer settings that can affect the smoothness of shifting, etc?

What do you guys think?
I have never done it on a Camry. How many hours are in that qoute? I might be a little leary if the shop figures 2-3 hours to do. You might have to move a cross member or something.
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post #9 of 55 Old 03-03-2010, 01:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mconfes View Post
Thanks for the replies everyone. I talked to Toyota and a tranny shop and both said that doing a drain/fill, screen/filter change wouldn't make things worse. Everyone is saying no the flush so that's out.

So, is this a pretty easy job? I saw the ATF kit for $20 and i looks easy enough. Toyota said to just use whatever OEM fluid it requires. The shop is quoting $140-180 to drop the pan/filter.

I have basic tools and would have to do it in my driveway. Is it as easy as it sounds? Do I have to buff the pan edges or anything like that? Are there any computer settings that can affect the smoothness of shifting, etc?

What do you guys think?
I agree with Toyota, a change and fill is the best bet and see how it reacts to that. Better then flushing and possibly dislodging clutch material etc. Yes you can do it yourself, it is messy but not difficult.

Of course drain the pan first (probably a 10 mm male hex socket) then unbolt and remove the pan.
The biggest issue with removing the pan, is the distinct possibility of a leak afterwards. You should not have to buff the pan just clean the gasket sealing surfaces on transmission and pan like new - and i'd use a gasket and sealer NOT silicone sealer.

I dont know what kind of gasket, if any, you will find when you drop the pan - the factory may have only used a bead of silicone sealant. Personally i'd replace that with a gasket and sealer, permatex (the brown kind) is the type i prefer - i have seen silicone leak way too many times to ever trust it on an ATf pan.

Note the torque specs on the bolts - they are in inch pounds. This means be careful not to overtighten the bolts when you replace the pan, if you overtighten you risk squeezing out the gasket material and a leak . IF you don't have or can't get a torque wrench (the preferred method) moderately firm tightness usually works.
If when removing the bolts you found some that were very loose - this is definitely not something you want again because this too can cause a leak. I'd use some loctite blue on the bolts and then just tighten them like a 98 pound weakling would.

When tightening the bolts use a criss-cross pattern to prevent warping the pan, do not tighten one then the one next to it etc. - use a pattern similar to how you would tighten the lug nuts on a wheel, or cylinder head bolts.

Last edited by AlmightyCamry777; 03-05-2010 at 01:44 PM.
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post #10 of 55 Old 03-03-2010, 07:17 PM
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A 1/4"-drive u-joint will help in getting at the 3 difficult bolts.
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post #11 of 55 Old 03-04-2010, 08:56 PM
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My 04 has about 80,000 miles, once and a while, the transmission seems to get confused and pause at low speeds when I turn a corner and try to go, I just wait for it to decide on a gear then accelerate. I changed the oil in the pan twice waiting a week in between changes when i got the car at 50 k miles; the oil stayed clean the second time. Too lazy to take the pan off. I now change out what's in the pan every spring, I use Toyota oil, it takes about 4 litres or American quarts.
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post #12 of 55 Old 03-04-2010, 10:23 PM
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Anybody know the torque specs on the pan bolts?

Otherwise with the drain plug the job is so much easier, drain, drop pan and clean inside. You will also see whats on the magnets and the screen, will give you an idea of whats "cooking".
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post #13 of 55 Old 11-06-2011, 09:43 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 89molavi View Post
Anybody know the torque specs on the pan bolts?

Otherwise with the drain plug the job is so much easier, drain, drop pan and clean inside. You will also see whats on the magnets and the screen, will give you an idea of whats "cooking".
Pan bolts on my 2002 Camry V6 are 69 in-lbs.
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post #14 of 55 Old 01-16-2016, 11:17 PM
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Should you change your lifetime transmission fluid?

Well, this is something I was not really sure of; But after reading around here and asking my mechanic, a lifetime fluid is a fallacy (at least for now).

Here is what the fluid from my drain pan looked like (even though the dipstick looked better) after 125K without a fluid change vs new T-IV on the left.



I am sending the sample off to Blackstone for evaluation and will post back with the results.

The picture makes it look a bit blacker than it really was but it certainly was dirty. I took the "safe" way out and put T-IV back in it because I wanted to follow Toyota's rule book. I just wanted to post this to thank hardtopte72 and others who helped me along the way to decide that changing the fluid was a must and maybe help others in the future.

I am taking a bit different route on changing/flushing than others though; mostly because I am not doing it myself. I had the pan dropped & the cleaned & about 5 quarts of fluid replaced. I am going to cycle probably another 12 quarts through it since I saw the crazy price my mechanic paid for the T-IV versus what I can get it for on Ebay ($12 a quart!!). Once I get the proper tooling I will do the complete flush. I can feel shift improvement already though.

I guess the lesson is don't trust a "lifetime" fluid when your vehicles service interval only runs to 144,000 miles and you are hoping for more like 300,000.

2005 Camry XLE V6 3.0L
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post #15 of 55 Old 01-16-2016, 11:45 PM
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Wow. Thank you for posting this, especially with the picture! And please post the findings on the lab analysis.

My car's at 165k and haven't done a transmission change yet, but I have all the necessary tools and parts =_= Just busy, what can i say..

Im curious though, what was your reason for just doing a drain, fill, and pan drop vs the full flush the first go? Was it due to the high price the mechanic was charging you per quart? Jus want to make sure I read that correctly.

And are you worried at all about the many transmission failure theories that have been circulating across the web?

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17' Enkei RSF2, Falken Ziex 950s, KN Filter, Akebono ProACT Ultra-Prem. Brake Pads, ATE Type 200 Brake Fluid
165,000 miles & beyond!

Last edited by RidgeRacerJM; 01-16-2016 at 11:49 PM.
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