Join Date: Jun 2009
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Forget the dealers. Go underneath the car and drain the fluid yourself. Purchase enough quarts/liter (stay with the dealer fluid) Let the fluid drain into a pan and cool down overnight. Then measure the amount of fluid that came out. Stay in a garage to avoid moisture. Then add the same amount of fluid, run vehicle for 10 minutes warm and check fluid level. If needed add more, but I doubt it.
This lifetime is a bunch of crap. I own a BMW 7 series with lifetime fluid and it is not lifetime. People have listended to the dealer and have had to replace their transmissions (10K) over fluid changes which would of cost $300 each time. Although those are sealed units (bit different).
I do a drain/fill every 15,000 miles on my wife's Infiniti QX56. The fluid (equivalent costs $4 a quart. So in total I spend $24 every year on a Transmission Fluid change) Not a big deal. The Toyota fluid will probably be about $60 each year.
If not comfortable yourself, find someone who is. This will take you about 20 minutes to do the fluid drain/fill. The synthetic fluids do break down over time just as any other fluid. Toyota wants to sell you a new transmission when your vehicle is out of warranty. That is what they are really telling you.
Change your fluid. Otherwise go to an Aamco and they will do a complete flush for about $200. Every year they will do a "free flush" as long as you own the car. May be a little more expensive because of fluid but at least you can use a good quality transmission shop.
Keep us posted on what you will do.